The World Health Organisation (WHO) has welcomed the establishment of a new Heads of State and Government Group to accelerate progress towards the SDG target for noncommunicable diseases ̶ a one-third reduction in “premature” deaths from diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease and the promotion of mental health and well-being.
The decision was taken at the inaugural International Strategic Dialogue on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and the Sustainable Development Goals, held today in Accra, Ghana, where a new Global Compact on NCDs was launched. The dialogue was co-hosted by WHO, together with the Governments of Ghana and Norway.
Heads of State highlighted the urgency of the NCD pandemic, which kills 7 out of 10 people globally from risk factors like tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and air pollution.
NCDs are largely preventable and treatable, nearly 7 million lives could be saved for just US$ 0.84 per person per year from now until 2030. This investment would realize more than US$ 230 billion in economic and societal benefits and avert nearly 10 million heart attacks and strokes globally by 2030.
The Heads of States and Governments Group announced that it will gather countries championing the NCD agenda and will convene annually at the UN General Assembly. The first meeting is expected to take place in September 2022.
The NCD Compact will focus on five key areas of commitment: saving, by 2030, the lives of 50 million people from dying prematurely of NCDs by implementing the most cost-effective measures to prevent and control NCDs; protecting 1.7 billion people living with NCDs by ensuring that they have access to the medicines and care they need during humanitarian emergencies; integrating NCDs within primary health care and universal health coverage; comprehensive NCD surveillance and monitoring; and meaningfully engaging 1.7 billion people living with NCDs and mental health conditions in policy-making and programming.
The economic, as well as the health, benefits of investing in NCDs was a clear theme at the Dialogue. Norway has been a frontrunner in investment in the fight against NCDs, investing internationally, becoming the first donor country to include NCDs in its international development strategy.
Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Afuko-Addo, President of Ghana, outlined the successes of Ghana in implementing tobacco demand-reduction measures and introducing guidelines for NCD management, but also highlighted the challenges for lower-income countries in accelerating action.