Intended for healthcare professionals

Analysis Solutions for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases

Time to align: development cooperation for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 31 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4499
  1. Téa E Collins, adviser1,
  2. Rachel Nugent, vice president2,
  3. Douglas Webb, team leader3,
  4. Erika Placella, deputy head4,
  5. Tim Evans, senior director5,
  6. Ayodele Akinnawo, consultant1
  1. 1Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Global Noncommunicable Diseases, RTI International, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3HIV, Health and Development, UN Development Programme, New York, USA
  4. 4Global Programme Health, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Bern, Switzerland
  5. 5Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank, Washington, DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to: T E Collins collinst{at}

Téa Collins and colleagues call for coordinated global action to catalyse effective national responses to non-communicable diseases

Financing sustainable development, especially for health, is important for dealing with the tremendous challenges faced by low income countries. Many cannot meet their populations’ basic needs from domestic public resources alone. Traditionally, high income countries have considered external assistance to be a foreign policy matter, influenced by national political and economic considerations. They have usually seen areas of health, such as infectious diseases, as having major implications for their national security.1

Until recently, however, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have not been seen as part of the global development agenda, and external resources for their prevention and control have been negligible. A change in the disease profile from communicable diseases to NCDs in low and middle income countries resulted in the inclusion of NCDs in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Nonetheless, health systems in those countries are ill prepared to deal with the high epidemiological and economic costs of chronic conditions. These conditions have now been recognised in global political forums.

The increasing importance of NCDs in the development agenda was validated by the three United Nations General Assembly high level meetings on non-communicable disease prevention and control (in 2011, 2014, and 2018) and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The agenda includes a target of one third reduction of premature mortality from NCDs by 2030.2

The 2030 agenda also emphasises the importance of official development assistance. It calls on high income countries “to reaffirm their commitment to achieve the target of 0.7% of gross national income for official development assistance to developing countries.”3

What does the combination of greater political intent and weak existing ability to deal with NCDs mean for development assistance for health? A clear answer to this …

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