Noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors

ECOSOC’s latest Task Force resolution calls for more investment in NCDs

7 June 2017

To accelerate global and national responses to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has called for greater financing to respond to the global epidemics of heart and lung diseases, cancers and diabetes, including providing sufficient resources for the work of the UN NCD Task Force.

People in a meeting room attending the ECOSOC Coordination and Management meeting 2017.
ECOSOC Coordination and Management Meeting.
UN Televison

ECOSOC Member States highlighted the progress made by the 40-plus member UN Task Force in supporting countries to tackle NCDs. Such actions include a joint programme supporting national NCD efforts in areas such as cancer, mobile technologies and action across government.

“This is a blueprint for action,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for NCDs and mental health. “It is clear that countries appreciate the Task Force’s work and it is important that the necessary resources are found to catalyse multisectoral action in countries – the frontline of the NCDs challenge.”

The Task Force empowers UN country teams to provide the best possible support to governments and their development partners to respond to NCDs.

Mr Werner Obermeyer,
Deputy Executive Director, WHO Office at the United Nations in New York

Dr Chestnov added that the staging of the 3rd UN High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2018 meant “it is more important than ever for the UN system to scale up action at the country level.”

The ECOSOC, in its resolution adopted on 7 June 2017, warned however that without greater resources, the UN system would be unable to deliver on its mandate to support countries to prevent and control NCDs, including reducing premature deaths from these conditions by one-third by 2030 as part of the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“National development plans and policies cannot be fulfilled with the current resources,” the resolution stated.

Specifically, the resolution urges national Governments, the private sector, bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank and regional development banks to explore financing for action on NCDs and to mobilize adequate, predictable and sustained resources for the Task Force’s activities.

The resolution reinforces the Task Force’s aim of building strong links between NCDs and relevant Sustainable Development Goals. The Task Force was specifically called on to develop its work on NCDs and their broader socio-economic, environmental and behavioral determinants.

The Council also identified the need to strengthen legal, fiscal and regulatory systems, including taxation and innovative financing options to develop self-sustained national multisectoral responses for the prevention and control of NCDs.

“The Task Force is unique platform that brings the entire UN development community together in order to scale up action on NCDs, health and development at the country level,” says Mr Werner Obermeyer, Deputy Executive Director, WHO Office at the United Nations in New York. “The Task Force empowers UN country teams to provide the best possible support to governments and their development partners to respond to NCDs.”

Countries now see the Task Force as a platform that delivers.

Mr. Sergey Kononuchenko,
Deputy Permanent Representative from the Russian Federation

ECOSOC appreciated the establishment at the UN General Assembly in 2016 of the informal “Friends of the Task Force” group, which includes Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan and the Russian Federation. A number of other development partners have expressed interest in joining the group.

Countries now see the Task Force as a platform that delivers. Mr. Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative from the Russian Federation says that Russia is now finalizing a US$1 million contribution for the joint UNDP-WHO global program to intensify multisectoral national NCD responses and to develop a number of NCD investment cases worldwide.

Mr. Kononuchenko also highlighted the need to bring partners around the table to mobilize additional funds for global NCD response.

Tobacco control remains central to the Task Force’s activities and its members were encouraged by the ECOSOC to use its new model policy to prevent tobacco industry interference in the work of the UN system.

The resolution also calls upon the Task Force to use goodwill ambassadors, envoys, advocates and champions to encourage action at global and national levels.