Noncommunicable diseases and mental health

What tools exist to reduce the NCDs burden?

Online Q&A (8)

Q: What tools exist to reduce the NCDs burden?

A: There is clear evidence that low-cost solutions exist to reduce the level of exposure of individuals and populations in developing countries have to the common modifiable risk factors

There is clear evidence that low-cost solutions exist to reduce the level of exposure of individuals and populations in developing countries have to the common modifiable risk factors (mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol), to strengthen health care for people with NCDs, and map the emerging epidemic of NCDs, and that these are excellent economic investments. Such measures can be implemented in various resource levels, and the greatest impact can be achieved through creation of healthy public policies and reorientation of health system services.

For action on NCDs to succeed, a whole-of-society approach is needed that requires all sectors, including health, finance, foreign affairs, education, agriculture, planning and others, to work together to reduce the causes and risks associated with NCDs, as well as promote the interventions to prevent and control them.

Overall NCD control

The 2008-2013 Action plan of the Global strategy for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases provides international development partners, as well as those in government and civil society, with steps on how to address the rapidly increasing health and economic development impact of NCDs in low- and middle -income countries.

Tobacco control

Implementation by countries of the anti-tobacco measures laid out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control can greatly reduce the exposure of populations to tobacco, which kills up to half of its approximately one billion users, more than 80% of which live in low- and middle-income countries. Such measures include implementation of tax and price policies on tobacco products to reduce consumption, and to prohibit or restrict the sale to and importations by international travellers of tax- and duty-free tobacco products. Non-pricing measures to reduce tobacco demand include protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke exposure; regulating tobacco product contents, disclosures and packaging; and promote public awareness and education campaigns on the health risks associated with tobacco.

Diet and physical activity

The WHO Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health aims to promote and protect health by enabling communities to reduce disease and death rates related to unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. These actions support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and have immense potential for public health gains worldwide. Physical inactivity is responsible for 6% of global deaths. Some 43 million pre-school children worldwide are obese or overweight.

Controlling harmful alcohol use

The WHO Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol offers measures and identifies priority areas of action to protect people from harmful alcohol use, which kills 2.5 million people through a range of causes, including NCDs. Taxation on alcohol products can limit consumption, and in turn reduce the NCD burden. Action is also important to target drinking patterns, such as binge-drinking, which has a high impact on coronary heart disease.

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UN High-level Meeting on NCD prevention and control - 19-20 September 2011

Contacts

World Health Organization - NMH
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Paul Garwood
E-mail: garwoodp@who.int