Noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors

WHO launches new tool showing the value of investing in NCD prevention and management

27 September 2018 | GENEVA | NEW YORK:

A new WHO tool was launched yesterday which shows country-specific data on investment opportunities for scaling up interventions to prevent and treat NCDs in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

It focuses on the WHO Best Buys, a set of policies which represent the greatest cost-benefit for tackling NCDs. These broadly include reducing tobacco and alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets, increasing physical activity, and improving the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.

It builds on the WHO report released in May 2018: Saving lives, spending less: a strategic response to noncommunicable diseases. Whilst the report looked at this work from a global level, the tool – a web portal – features country-specific information on the potential health gains and economic benefits of investing in each WHO Best Buy policy between now and 2030.

“This information shows that the slow progress in tackling the NCD epidemic can no longer be attributed to a lack of information on the efficacy of interventions or to obstacles to financing their implementation,” says WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Svetlana Askelrod. “These are investments no one can afford not to make”.

Low- and lower-middle income countries currently bear a significant share of premature deaths from NCDs: almost half of the 15 million premature deaths every year. The data in this tool indicates that by implementing the WHO Best Buys, the world would move significantly closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.4: To reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030. It also highlights where the greatest return on investment would be for each country in terms of economic benefits.

“Until today we lacked the information on the investment needed at country level to prioritise implementation,” says WHO Director Dr Etienne Krug. “The data in the tool offers governments and partners a foundation to build the case for investment in NCDs. It clearly signals to the global community that the prevention and control of NCDs are a smart and sustainable investment for every country”.