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Michael Kessler NCD Alliance media consultant
Jimena Marquez NCD Alliance Communications Director
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The Global Week for Action on NCDs is a global campaign led by the NCD Alliance - uniting civil society, relevant private sector organisations, NGOs, decisionmakers and people living with chronic illnesses (NCDs) around a specific theme.
Explore more about NCDs and this year's care theme and get access to resources for your news story below.
Facts on NCDs and care
- At least half of the world’s population does not currently have full coverage of essential health services. Most of these people live in low- and middle‑income countries.
- Half of adults living with diabetes are unable to access the insulin they need; hypertension is only under medical control for one in five people; chronic kidney disease tends to go untreated, with up to 90% of cases undiagnosed until lifesaving dialysis or a transplant is needed, and more than 90% of cancer patients in low-income countries lack access to radiotherapy.
- Millions of people are pushed into extreme poverty each year due to out-of-pocket payments for healthcare. Many more die from treatable diseases because they cannot afford care.
- An estimated 1.4 billion people are facing catastrophic or impoverishing health expenditure, because they have to pay directly for services, medications, and other related expenses like travel to health centres.
- 8.6 million avoidable deaths occur each year due to low quality or underused care in LMICs.
- 47% of the global population (3.8 billion), and 81% in low- and lower-middle income countries, have little to no access to core diagnostic tools, including laboratory diagnostics and diagnostic imaging.
- A quarter of the world´s population - 1.7 billion people - lives with NCDs such as cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and heart disease. 41 million people die every year due to an NCD, accounting for 74% of all deaths worldwide. Annual deaths from NCDs are projected to escalate to 52 million by 2030 if this trend is not reversed.
- What these diseases have in common are root causes, such as smoking, junk food, alcohol, bad air quality, and nowhere to exercise. The good news is that an estimated 80% of NCDs can be prevented by limiting or eliminating exposure to their root causes.
- The economic burden of NCDs falls heaviest on those most at risk of being left behind by UHC: people living in low- and middle-income countries, and poor people and communities in all countries, are being made poorer by NCDs. The very old and very young, as well as people living in rural areas, are also disproportionately burdened.
- NCDs are both a cause and a consequence of poverty. These same groups are also the most exposed to NCD risk factors, putting them at higher risk of developing NCDs.
- At least 1.4 billion people are facing catastrophic or impoverishing health spending. A large portion of global health expenditure is for noncommunicable diseases, which are chronic in nature and often require long-term or lifelong care.
- World leaders have promised to ensure everyone has access to healthcare, regardless of ability to pay, by 2030; this is known as Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
- UHC is our most powerful tool to reduce health inequities and to close the care gap and move towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The progressive achievement of UHC requires the integration of NCD prevention and care services in the design and implementation of UHC health benefits packages.
- As of 2023, the world is expected to have increased UHC by just 290 million people, leaving 710 million people still to be reached by 2030 if the targets of the 2019 Political Declaration of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage are to be achieved.
- The 2023 State of UHC Commitment Review reports that although 70% of countries have used UHC as a goal for their national policies and plans, only 11% have adopted a clear action plan or road map.
- To reach UHC, countries should spend at least 5% of their gross domestic product on health.
- The direct and indirect costs of NCDs are depleting national and global economies. Together, the five leading NCDs – cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health and neurological conditions – have been estimated to cost more than US$ 2 trillion per year (or US$ 47 trillion between 2011-2030). Annual losses due to NCDs range from 3.5% – 5.9% of total GDP, and the amount they will cost developing countries alone between 2011 and 2025 will be $7 trillion dollars, equivalent to the combined annual GDP of France, Spain, and Germany.
- By introducing a realistic and cost-effective package of 21 NCD prevention and treatment interventions, governments could avert 39 million deaths in low- and middle-income countries. These interventions could generate an average net economic benefit of $2.7 trillion, or $390 per capita, between 2023 and 2030. Implementing this set of interventions would require an additional investment of US$18 billion annually over the same seven-year period—the equivalent of the world's health ministries collectively dedicating 20% of their budgets to NCDs. The economic benefits of implementing this package outweigh the investment.
- Financing NCDs in developing countries will require a mixture of domestic financing and catalytic development aid. Domestic NCD financing efforts should start by enhancing public finance capability through general taxation or social health insurance, coupled with fiscal reforms. Removing subsidies or imposing taxes on health-harming goods, such as fossil fuels and sugar, plays a crucial role in NCD financing and generates resources while preventing NCDs and protecting public health.
- Taxes and regulations on unhealthy products are key interventions to improve population health and generate funds that can be channelled into NCD prevention and treatment, but these policies are usually met with strong opposition from the industries concerned. A priority for collective action is to counter industry efforts to influence policies at the expense of our health. Watch these short videos to see how Mexico and Barbados are taking action against the ultra-processed food industry.
The UN High-Level Meeting on UHC
One of the biggest events for global health in 2023 is the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Universal Health Coverage, which will take place on 21 September 2023. It will present the opportunity for Heads of State and Government and their health and finance ministers to engage at the UN High-level Meeting on UHC and take the lead in the progressive achievement of UHC by ensuring equity in their UHC health benefits packages across the three dimensions of financial, population, and service coverage, and to meet the needs of people living with NCDs.
The result of the UN HLM on UHC will be a Political Declaration in which Member States will agree to make various commitments towards achieving UHC. The NCD Alliance is calling for commitments to:
- Invest in prevention and care of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes;
- Speed up implementation of integrated UHC packages that tackle infectious and chronic diseases comprehensively;
- Align sustainable development and global health priorities; and
- Engage people living with NCDs in decisions that affect their health.
Read our UHC brief to find out more about our priorities for NCD care.
Enabling People’s Right to Health through Universal Health Coverage for People Living with NCDs
This important UHC event also saw the announcement of the Global Week for Action on NCDs 2023 theme.
Use these quotes freely:
See how NCDA partners are working on the ground to improve NCD care. Keep an eye on this section – blogs are being added as we get closer to the Global Week for Action!
Read real-life accounts from people living with NCDs on how access to care - or lack of it - affects their lives and disease management. The NCD Diaries are available in audio, written, and photographic formats.
Seeing is believing!
Key facts about why the moment for caring is now!
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Further reading on NCDs
- Paying the price: A deep dive into out-of-pocket spending is a literature review by the NCD Alliance and the George Institute for Global Health. It looks at the economic burden of noncommunicable diseases on households and the mechanisms to reduce out of pocket payments experienced by people living with NCDs.
- The NCD Alliance response to the HLM UHC Political Declaration presents the NCDA response to the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (HLM UHC) Political Declaration, which is currently in silence procedure and shall be adopted at the UN HLM on UHC on 21 September 2023. It is intended as a Advocacy Briefing to support advocates in their efforts with governments.