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Chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the number one cause of death and disability in the world. The term NCDs refers to a group of conditions that are not mainly caused by an acute infection, result in long-term health consequences and often create a need for long-term treatment and care. These conditions include cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lung illnesses. Many NCDs can be prevented by reducing common risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, physical inactivity and eating unhealthy diets.
Many other important conditions are also considered NCDs, including injuries and mental health disorders. HHS works with US government and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to address these and other important chronic health conditions.
Global Action on NCDs
The international community is very concerned about the effect of NCDs on families, communities, and nations. From July 10-11, 2014, the United Nations (UN) reviewed and assessed progress made since the 2011 UN General Assembly high-level meeting on NCDs, including on developing voluntary global targets and recommending ways to work across all of society to prevent and manage NCDs. The meeting also identified gaps and challenges, and laid out actions to enhance work to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. In May 2014, the 67th World Health Assembly agreed on a Global Coordination Mechanism to help coordinate activities by governments, civil society and the private sector and support implementation of the 2013 Global Action Plan on NCDs.
Global Action Plan, Monitoring Frameworks, and Targets
In May 2013, the 66th World Health Assembly adopted a set of measures to tackle the global NCDs challenge. They endorsed a new Global Action Plan on NCDs containing suggested actions for WHO, countries, and international partners. These actions included working to improve multi-stakeholder collaboration and adopting the global monitoring framework. The framework lays out 25 indicators of progress and nine voluntary global targets to:
- Cut avoidable, premature deaths from the leading NCDs by 25 percent
- Decrease leading behaviors that increase the risk of NCDs, namely tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, physical inactivity, and eating unhealthy diets including consuming excess salt/sodium
- Stop the rise in diabetes and obesity, and reduce population levels of raised blood pressure
- Encourage access to essential medicines and technologies for NCDs and promote appropriate use of drug therapy to reduce heart attacks and strokes
2011 United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs
In September 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly held a high-level meeting on NCD prevention and control. UN Member States adopted a political declaration calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a global monitoring framework and recommend voluntary global targets to prevent and control these diseases. Countries also committed to strengthen their national responses to NCDs and to increase international collaboration, working across government, civil society and the private sector.
NCDs and HHS
HHS contributes in many ways to preventing and controlling NCDs around the world. HHS supports basic, clinical, and applied research that builds knowledge about effective NCD approaches. HHS supports health systems strengthening activities such as training and workforce development that better equip providers with the skills needed to prevent and manage chronic illnesses. HHS also partners with multilateral institutions to develop, promote, and implement evidence-based health policies. International partners work together toward shared goals of better preventing NCDs and addressing the needs of people living with chronic illness. OGA, under HHS, leads multilateral efforts on global NCD issues. They work with partners including the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization. OGA also helps facilitate the international work of HHS’s divisions and institutes.
For more information, please visit the links below.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center for Global Health
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- Fogarty International Center (FIC)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health Systems Strengthening
- CDC's Field Epidemiology Training Program
- FIC's Medical Education Partnership Initiative
- NHLBI's Global Network of Collaborating Centers of Excellence
- Global Tobacco Surveillance System
- 2011 UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs
- WHO: Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health
- Pan-American Health Organization: Chronic Disease Prevention and Control