An international framework for tackling NCDs has been established, with nine voluntary targets on NCDs, agreed by WHO member states in 2012, including a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025 from 2010 levels. The Sustainable Development Goals – unlike their precursor, the Millennium Development Goals – also include a target on NCDs.
SDG Target 3.4:
By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well being
Low- and middle-income countries lag far behind in achieving this target, not least because of the competing priorities of infectious diseases and maternal and child health, toward which health systems have been orientated to respond. Country-level implementation requires political will, innovative funding and improved coordination across the health system, and more widely across national government.
In-country progress has been insufficient and highly uneven, and it is the vulnerable and marginalised who are left behind. 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 – and, with the advent of COVID-19, the aid pot is shrinking further, just as health systems are put under increased strain.
The UK Working Group on NCDs calls for NCDs to be a priority for UK international development.
In January 2022, the UK Working Group on NCDs cohosted (with Action for Global Health) a webinar with colleagues from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department of Health and Social Care, launching a new report on Non-communicable Diseases and UK Aid in the Era of COVID-19. A set of policy recommendations drawn up by the Working Group was also presented at this meeting, which will direct our advocacy into the future. This was the culmination of a six-month project to consider the place of NCDs in UK aid through the lens of people living with NCDs: the authors of the report and the lead speakers in the launch meeting are all people with lived experience of NCDs.
In May 2018, the Working Group held a Parliamentary briefing event in Portcullis House with participation from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health, the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the Department for International Development. It was an excellent opportunity to engage with civil servants across not only in the health/NCDs agenda, but also across development and research – in both of which the UK is a world leader. A briefing paper produced for the event is available below. This event aimed to inform and engage policymakers ahead of the UN High-level Meeting on NCDs, held in September 2018 during the UN General Assembly.