Noncommunicable diseases and mental health

Improving the availability and affordability of essential medicines and basic health technologies for noncommunicable diseases

Over 16 million people die each year from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) between the ages of 30 and 70, of which 82 per cent are in developing countries. It is estimated that up to two-thirds of these premature deaths from NCDs are linked to exposure to known risk factors and up to half of all such deaths are linked to weak health systems that do not respond effectively and equitably to the health-care needs of people with NCDs. Most of these premature deaths can be prevented by governments taking a leading role and responsibility.

In May 2013, in response to global assignments for WHO included in the 2011 Political Declaration, the World Health Assembly endorsed 9 concrete global NCD targets for 2025, organized around the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, including targets 9 which states: “an 80% availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major noncommunicable diseases in both public and private facilities.”

A key aspect of NCD prevention and control require that patients have equitable access to affordable medicines and technologies. Unfortunately, bottlenecks present within and outside health systems have continued to undermine this necessity and contribute to the rising burden of NCDs. Spending on medicines and other health technologies are noted to put severe strains on health budgets, accounting for more than half of total current health expenditures in some countries.

In order to strengthen efforts to realize the achievement of this target, the Secretariat developed a discussion paper on access to essential medicines and basic health technologies for NCDs. The objective was to engage stakeholders through a consultative process, to help define ways and means to assist Member States in their national efforts to improve equitable access through a set of actions. The deadline to receive comments on the paper was on 21 September 2015.

The WHO Secretariat has published all contributions received by email on this website. All comments submitted were subject to review by the WHO Secretariat prior to publishing and WHO reserves the right to summarize and/or edit any submission in consultation with the submitting party.

Discussion paper: Essential medicines and basic health technologies for noncommunicable diseases