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What Government Ministries Need to Know about Non-communicable Diseases

This set of briefs produced by WHO and UNDP provide policy and decision makers across government with information on how non-communicable diseases (NCDs) impact their sector, and the proactive steps they can take to respond to the challenges while advancing their own objectives and accountabilities. 

NCDs – principally cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease – are the world’s biggest killers. Urgent and whole-of government action is needed to prevent the annual toll of 16 million people who die prematurely, before the age of 70, from NCDs. Often misconstrued as a problem of high-income countries, NCDs place an equal – if not greater – burden on low– and middle-income countries (LMICs). Over 80 percent of premature NCD deaths occur in LMICs.

Most premature NCD deaths are preventable by taking cost-effective action to tackle four main behavioural risk factors – tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet. Tackling NCDs and their risk factors requires a response from government sectors beyond health. Multi-sectoral action for NCDs, endorsed in the 2011 Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs and in numerous other high-level political decisions, is not a zero sum game. It is possible to identify strategies and approaches that deliver shared gains and co-benefits for all sectors involved.