The UK Working Group on Non-communicable Diseases
draws attention to and encourages action to address the
growing burden of NCDs as an international development priority
The UK Working Group on NCDs
The UK Working Group on NCDs is a network of over 20 UK-based national and international NGOs and research organisations, which work together to draw attention to the urgent need to address the burden of non-communicable diseases as an international development priority.
The UK Working Group on NCDs was founded in early 2018 to advocate for strong UK government representation at the United Nations High-level Meeting on NCDs, held in September that year. In 2019, our attention turned to the lead-up to the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, advocating that NCD prevention and control be included as a core component. Most recently, the Working Group has pivoted its attention to the clear links between COVID-19 and chronic conditions, acting as a focal point for information-sharing between its member organisations.
The UK Working Group on NCDs has been proud to be a UK member of the NCD Alliance since 2019, and in 2020 and 2021 received $15,000 grants from the NCD Alliance’s Civil Society Solidarity Fund on NCDs and COVID-19. In 2020/21 this culminated in a successful webinar on ‘Resourcing for health‘, and 2021/2 we were able substantially to increase our engagement with people with lived experience of NCDs through a project focusing on overseas development assistance and NCDs in an era of COVID-19.
Covid-19 and NCDs
People living with NCDs have a significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, and the pandemic also has an impact on risk factors for future NCDs. From March 2020 the Working Group has focused on the COVID-19 response.
UHC and NCDs
In 2019, the UK Working Group on NCDs focused on the first United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), advocating for NCD prevention and control be included as a core component.
Development and NCDs
The UK Working Group was founded in early 2018, ahead of the third United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs, a rallying point for coordination and advocacy on the need for NCDs to be an international development priority.
What are NCDs?
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are not transmissible from person to person. They tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. NCDs include cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, which together account for 70% of deaths worldwide, with mental-health and neurological conditions such as dementia adding significantly to this burden of ill health. Together, these five NCDs are estimated to cost US$47 trillion in lost gross domestic product globally between 2010 and 2030.
Over three-quarters of the NCD burden falls on people living in low- and middle-income countries, and 86% of deaths among those aged under 70 are from NCDs are in these regions. However, there is a severe mismatch between the scale of the NCD challenge and the allocation of official development assistance: only 2% of development assistance for health is spent on NCDs.
Significant progress could be made by health systems strengthening and improvement of treatment and management, and through prevention – particularly addressing five risk factors identified by the World Health Organization: poor nutrition, physical inactivity, tobacco use, harmful consumption of alcohol, and air pollution.
See, for example, World Health Organization, Noncommunicable Diseases factsheet (2018) here.
The UK Working Group on NCDs is a UK-based network of civil society organisations working to reduce the impact of NCDs on people’s lives in the UK and internationally.
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