By Francis Okoye

Non Communicable Diseases:In a Webinar organized by Citizens News Service (CNS), on the topic ‘How can we generate stronger action against non-communicable diseases?’, health experts drawn from IUATLD, NCD Alliance etc reveal how we can overcome premature deaths from non communicable diseases (NCD’s).

One of the moderators of the webinar, shobha shukla, managing editor CNS states that the 70th world Health Assembly held in May 2017, gave a firm mandate to governments to take global action against non communicable diseases.

The co-moderator, seasoned international journalist from Durban, South Africa, Ashok Ramsarup in his opening remarks, revealed that 2 out of every 5 deaths in South Africa is as a result of non communicable disease. 40% of which are men, while death in women from it, is 29%. He calls death from non communicable diseases untimely, premature, unacceptable and that can be mitigated.

CRISTINA Parson Perez, one of the health experts, capacity Development Director of NCD Alliance, spoke on the global policy landscape. She reveals that cancer, diabetes, TB, lung disease share 4 to 5 risk factors, some of which involve tobacco use, lack of physical activities.

Going down history, she stated that the first global policy on NCD was in 2011 by the Heads of States – it was a global acknowledgement of serious issues posed by NCD’s. In 2015 meeting, they had a roadmap, 2015 – 2020 WHO action plan also emerged. It was in 2015 that World Health assembly set up target for NCD’s to reduce premature death by 25% in 2030. In the third meeting 2016, they developed a global commitment to global action, established national plan, prevention and strengthening plans. These countnues till 2017, but is not good enough, due to a lack of global commitment and national action. In 2016, NCDs were included as a target and hurriedly injected into development agenda. In 2018 May, they will be high level UN meeting serving to report on national progress and to reach ambitious targets.


Weak Political Commitment – political commitment to progress, action on NCD we need:

· high level commitment – take action

· strong and vibrant civil society

· hold decision makers accountable

· sense of urgency – put people first, people are at the very centre of NCDs

We need to do the following:

– consult: a broad section of people living with NCD

– advocate: produce an advocacy agenda for people living with NCD

– involve: ensure meaningful involvement of them

– amplify: voice and views of PLWNCDs by stimulating public debate

Limited Progress in Engaging Non Health Sector

There is a huge opportunity here, check out online forms like end hunger, collaborate with Ministry of Education, Ministry of Transport on Safety on streets for people to walk, cycle safely, etc.

Lack of Access to Financing for National NCD Programme and Interventions

We should be discussing how our NCDs are going to be funded, total money spent on NCDs in 2016 health funding worldwide was just 1.7%. They was small increase of 20 – 22% in NCD funding. We should be able to raise fund from domestic and private sectors. A funding conference is already on board for 2018 to share best practices. WHO is providing a global case of action on investment in NCD.

Weak Health Systems

Community based care/primary healthcare should have integrated cost effective NCD interventions attached to them and into National Health care of countries. We have 5 cost effective NCD interventions, WHO has a technical report on that.

Commercial Determines of Health

Efforts should be made to protect policy makers from commercial influence – opposition and barrier by those with very strong commercial interest – industry interference and need for guidance and support.

The Way Forward by Dr Latif

Dr Ehsan Latifi Senior Advisor (NCDs) IUATLD – wonders if the countries have capacity, structure and skills: Do they have right infrastructures, personnel, capacity to develop such action plans. Countries need social commitment, government must prioritize.

NCD risk factors are tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy foods, unhealthy lifestyle, there is need to address risk factors ,increase capacity of international NCD alliances, raise voices, learn from tobacco, learn from school education programme, we need target education, place local resources to work. We need to translate international plans to local and national health plans and set up structures, and build up alliances across industries.

On a personal note, learn to walk sometimes, don’t sit in office from 9 am – 5 pm, exercise, go to gym – this are ways to combat NCDs, aside dietary changes.

Dr Rita Banik, Cancer survivor and founder/president, Race to Rein in Cancer at: www.race2vic-org wrote a book on her experiences with NCDs, especially cancer, titled’Kick the Beast out of Your Life’ – she also recounted her experiences of NCDs (Cancer).

NCDs account for 70% of premature deaths, ‘combating NCDs is one of my priorities for the WHO’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, newly elected WHO Director General.