Intended for healthcare professionals

Solutions for non-communicable disease prevention and control

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitute a major global health challenge, hampering nations’ economic growth and sustainable development. The four major groups of NCDs - cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes - account for over 80% of all NCD related deaths and share the same four major risk factors: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. Recently, mental health and environmental determinants were also added to the NCD agenda.

This new collection issue brings together a wide and diverse author group, to focus on key issues and suggest scalable solutions to accelerate the implementation of the high level commitments made in the three UN general assembly meetings. As this collection expands over time, it looks to cover the major issues in prevention and control of NCDs, and to provide a holistic perspective on the current challenges and scope of future action to tackle NCDs and improve health worldwide.

Series articles:

Better health and wellbeing for billion more people: integrating non-communicable diseases in primary care
Cherian Varghese and colleagues describe a model to improve equitable access to good quality health services for non-communicable diseases within primary healthcare

Social determinants and non-communicable diseases: time for integrated action
A whole systems approach that integrates action on the social determinants of health is essential to reduce the burden of non-communicable disease, argue Michael Marmot and Ruth Bell

Integrating mental health with other non-communicable diseases
Mental disorders often coexist with other non-communicable diseases and they share many risk factors. Dan Stein and colleagues examine the evidence for an integrated approach

Environmental risks and non-communicable diseases
Annette Prüss-Ustün and colleagues consider the role of air pollution and other environmental risks in non-communicable diseases and actions to reduce them

A life-course approach to the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases
A successful approach to reducing the burden of non-communicable disease requires action at all stages of life, argue Bente Mikkelsen and colleagues

Transforming the food system to fight non-communicable diseases
Malnutrition and unhealthy diets are important risk factors for non-communicable diseases. Francesco Branca and colleagues call for changes in both what and how food is produced, marketed, and consumed

These articles are part of a series proposed by the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs and commissioned by The BMJ. The BMJ retained full editorial control over external peer review, editing, and publication of these articles. Article handing fees (including printing, distribution, and open access fees) are funded by WHO.

All articles from WHO employees are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial IGO License ( In any reproduction of these articles there should not be any suggestion that WHO or this article endorse any specific organization or products. © World Health Organization 2019. Licensee BMJ Publishing Group Limited.