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.


Mobilising society to implement solutions for non-communicable diseases
A BMJ series helps map the way towards better health and wellbeing for all.


Time to align: development cooperation for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases
Téa Collins and colleagues call for coordinated global action to catalyse effective national responses to non-communicable diseases.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Prioritising action on alcohol for health and development.
Despite the existence of cost effective interventions to reduce harmful use of alcohol, countries are not giving it the attention it deserves, say Dag Rekve and colleagues.

National action plans to tackle NCDs: role of stakeholder network analysis
Network science approaches can enhance global and national coordinated efforts to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases, say Ruth Hunter and colleagues.

Using economic evidence to support policy decisions to fund interventions for non-communicable diseases
Economic analysis of interventions to reduce non-communicable diseases can encourage countries to increase investment, say Melanie Bertram and colleagues.

One size does not fit all: implementation of interventions for non-communicable diesease
Implementation of evidence based interventions for NCDs is slow in many countries. João Breda and colleagues call for more support to help them adapt the recommendations to their local context.

Asking the right question: implementation research to accelerate national non-communicable disease responses
Non-communicable disease programmes can be strengthened by systematically identifying implementation challenges and translating them into questions that can be answered through appropriate research, say David H Peters and colleagues.


Tackling NCDs in humanitarian settings is a growing challenge
Multisectoral networks have a vital role in meeting the needs of vulnerable people, says Ruth Hunter.

Medical education must change if we are to tackle the causes of non-communicable diseases
Curriculums must include social determinants of health, say Téa E Collins and colleagues.

Indigenous languages must play a role in tackling non-communicable diseases
In order to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people they must be involved in the creation and implementation of policies, this means a commitment to indigenous languages, say Summer Finlay and Kate Armstrong.

Including the private sector in partnerships to tackle non-communicable diseases
Dennis Odai Laryea and Thomas B Cueni argue that, with proper safeguards, pharmaceutical companies can make an important contribution.

A “whole of society” approach to non-communicable diseases must include civil society organisations
The responses to HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and climate change provide examples for civil society engagement in NCDs, says Katie Dain.

These articles are part of a series proposed by the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs and commissioned by The BMJ, which peer reviewed, edited, and made the decision to publish. Open access fees are funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), Government of the Russian Federation, and 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.