COVID-19 and NCDs

The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has laid bare the realities and fragilities of health systems worldwide – initially in China and developed countries, but then, tragically, in the lower-income settings that are the primary focus of the UK Working Group on NCDs. 

People living with NCDs (such as diabetes) or who have had greater exposure to NCD risk factors (such as air pollution or poor nutrition) are at greater risk of death from COVID-19; all are at risk of strain on mental health, as livelihoods and lives are threatened. 

This is not a question of either addressing infectious or non-communicable disease: it must be both. Health systems and primary care must be strengthened worldwide, both during the acute phase of the crisis (however long that lasts) and then over the longer term to provide much greater resilience for people of all ages and backgrounds. This is a vital part of international development, providing a sustainable present and future for all.

The UK Working Group is well placed to enable discussion between its members on immediate reactions to the crisis (such as ways in which members are pivoting programmes to minimise the effects of the pandemic on people living with NCDs and on operational and funding realities) and on longer-term approaches. From March 2020, members have met regularly to share their efforts and resources, and to coordinate a response.

NCD Alliance grants

The UK Working Group is particularly grateful to the NCD Alliance for awarding us grants in both phases (to date) of the Civil Society Solidarity Fund on Non-Communicable Diseases and COVID-19.

In 2020, this enabled to take a more strategic approach to our work and culminating in an excellent webinar on ‘Resourcing for health in an era of COVID-19: maximising bang for buck’, delivered in partnership with Action for Global Health and The George Institute.

In 2021, the grant funded a survey and report on NCDs, COVID-19 and UK overseas development assistance (ODA), commissioned by the UKWG from consultants who themselves have lived experience of NCDs. This report was presented to colleagues from the UK government (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department for Health and Social Care) in January 2022 at a webinar co-hosted by Action for Global Health and led by people living with NCDs from the UK, Africa and the Americas. The funding has also enabled the UKWG to develop a set of policy recommendations on ODA and NCDs.

Various collated resources on COVID-19 and NCDs

  • NCD Alliance website – collated resources on COVID-19 and NCDs: here.
  • LSHTM Centre for Global Chronic Conditions, COVID-19 and people with chronic conditions resources and publications list here
  • See also:
    • World Health Organization, ‘Information note on Covid-19 and NCDs’ here (23 March 2020)
    • H.H.P. Kluge, K. Wickramasinghe et al., ‘Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the COVID-19 response’ The Lancet (online first) here (8 May 2020)

Member resources on COVID-19 and NCDs 

Covid-19 resources

  • Action for Global Health, information on the UK aid response to COVID-19 here
  • Alzheimer’s Disease International, ‘ADI offers advice and support during COVID-19’ (resources page) here
  • HelpAge International, ‘Coronavirus COVID-19’ (resources page) here
  • The George Institute for Global Health blogs/news/virtual events/research here
  • Primary Care International, COVID19 e-learning module for primary care clinicians in resource-poor settings here (includes ‘Managing patients with NCDs’ and ‘Mental health – patients and healthcare workers’)
  • Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, ‘COVID-19 resources’ (resources page) here (includes resources specific to LMICs)

COVID-19-related publications/statements

  • Global Action on Men’s Health, ‘COVID-19 and men: call for action – a statement by Global Action on Men’s Health’ here (11 May 2020)
  • WCRF, Cancer prevention and COVID-19 statement here (27 April 2020 and will be updated)
  • The George Institute for Global Health, Frontline Health Workers in COVID-19 Prevention and Control: Rapid Evidence Synthesis here (30 March 2020)
  • World Obesity, ‘Obesity and COVID-19 policy statement’ here (29 March 2020)

Member webinars

  • Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance here
  • World Obesity here

Member commentary

  • WCRF, Obesity and coronavirus (COVID-19) blog (21 April 2020) here
  • Primary Care International statement, ‘COVID-19: what does it mean for fragile primary health care systems and workforce?’ here
  • Blog from PCI’s CEO Julia Beart, ‘Steering PCI through a pandemic: standing together in a time of crisis’ (30 March 2020) here
  • Blog from C3 Collaborating for Health’s Christine Hancock, ‘COVID-19 and chronic disease’ here (23 March 2020)

Please do not hesitate to get in touch via the form below if you have a resource that would be useful for the UK Working Group on NCDs or that you would like considered for inclusion in this list.

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