Spotlight: Non-Communicable Diseases Roundtable
This past December, at Global Health Council’s (GHC) 2022 Global Landscape Symposium (GHLS), GHC’s Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Roundtable had the opportunity to host a concurrent session focused on Strengthening US Leadership in NCDs. The session was co-hosted by GHC, NCD Alliance, Partners in Health, and the American Heart Association. The session was structured as a panel but left ample time for an active discussion with the audience. Over thirty participants from the GHLS attended the session made up of a variety of organizations from INGOs, CSOs, and Academia to the Private Sector.
NCDs are noninfectious health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease. They are currently the leading cause of disability worldwide, killing 41 million people annually. In low and middle-income countries, approximately 17 million deaths under the age of 70 are caused by NCDs, which account for 86% of premature deaths. Yet the government has made only moderate investments to reduce the burden of avoidable death and suffering due to NCDs and mental health.
The NCD Roundtable’s side session aimed to build awareness of these serious health problems, understand how the pandemic worsened the state of NCDs globally, and discuss actions the United States Government and others should take to address NCDs. Toward the end of the session, the panel and audience discussed critical actions governments (primarily the USG) and other stakeholders need to take to address the NCD burden, particularly on the poorest and most vulnerable. Below is a summary of those actions:
- Dedicate adequate funding to NCDs. For example, there is currently no line item for NCDs in the US Appropriations Budget. Congress should invest in NCDs without carving out or defunding other disease areas.
- Strengthen data collection and research related to the global NCD and mental health burden, particularly among vulnerable populations. This will increase policymakers’ understanding of what the NCD challenges are and who is most affected.
- NCD interventions should be integrated across other global health programs. As we have seen during the pandemic, COVID-19 has increased the number of people living with NCDs. Other disease-specific programs should include strategies that increase access to sustainable and cost-effective NCD interventions.
- Come together and build joint messaging around NCDs. One of the biggest challenges for NCDs is that it is an umbrella term for many other diseases. Advocates, rightly so, are advocating for their own disease areas under the NCD umbrella. The NCD advocacy community must develop common messaging and coordinate advocacy to make more of an impact.
- More clearly define NCDs. There is a lot of confusion outside (and many times inside) the NCD community on the definition of NCDs and the various diseases included in that definition and how they are interconnected to other disease areas outside of NCDs.
- Link NCD, Primary Health Care (PHC), and Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). PHC can provide necessary screening throughout a person’s life course to prevent, detect and treat NCDs. A strong health system that provides universal access to quality and affordable health services also benefits those populations burdened with NCDs, particularly those that are most vulnerable.
The NCD Roundtable will use these actions and other key takeaways from the side session discussion in its 2023 NCD advocacy strategy. For more information about the NCD Roundtable, please email Eliana Monteforte, GHC Director for Special Projects and Co-Chair of the NCD Roundtable at firstname.lastname@example.org.