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Global Action on NCDs

Key UN and WHO Documents Ι Resources Ι Links

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – comprising mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – are the leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 38 million people die from NCDs each year, nearly 16 million of them prematurely. Eighty-two per cent of premature deaths occur in developing countries, where the burden of NCDs is increasing rapidly. A large proportion of NCDs are preventable, sharing modifiable risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.

In 2011, the landmark United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs brought global recognition of NCDs as ‘one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century', and a ‘threat to the economies' of many States. In the Political Declaration adopted at the Meeting, States committed to advance implementation of population-wide interventions to reduce exposure to NCD risk factors, strengthen health systems, promote the treatment and care of people with NCDs, and strengthen international cooperation to meet shared challenges.  They underlined that multisectoral action is essential; that responding to NCDs requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society effort. These commitments have shaped the development of a framework for global and national responses. 

Established elements of the global NCD framework now include:

On 10-11 July 2014, the UN General Assembly held a second High-level meeting to comprehensively review progress made in implementing the commitments of the Political Declaration, identify gaps in action, and build consensus on scaling up responses to prevent and control NCDs at the national level, where progress has been recognised as ‘insufficient and highly uneven’. 

In the review Outcomes document, States reaffirmed the Political Declaration, which has ‘catalysed action and retains great potential for engendering sustainable improved health and human development outcomes’. They also reaffirmed the primary role and responsibility of Governments in responding to the challenge of NCDs and the need for multisectoral approaches to health. States committed to address NCDs as matter of priority in national development plans and give due consideration to addressing NCDs in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. They decided to hold another high-level comprehensive review in 2018.

Key WHO and UN Documents: