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New taskforce aims to curb non-communicable diseases worldwide

April 10, 2018

COPENHAGEN, Denmark— The Lancet Taskforce on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and economics, a partner of the World Health Organization’s Independent High-Level Commission on NCDS, has launched at the WHO NCD Financing meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 10, 2018.

Non-communicable diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are responsible for 38 million deaths each year, 16 million of these are among people aged under 70. The Sustainable Development Goal NCD target (SGD 3.4) is to reduce deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030 and promote mental health.

The Taskforce links this SDG target with additional goals, including supporting healthy lives and well-being, and demonstrates the tight-knot connection between economic growth and controlling NCDs.

“Non-communicable diseases are a major cause and consequence of poverty worldwide,” said Rachel Nugent, PhD, vice president of global NCDs at RTI International and chair of The Lancet Taskforce on NCDs and economics. “Responding to this challenge means big investments to improve health care systems worldwide, but there are immediate and effective tools at our disposal. Taxes on unhealthy products can produce major health gains, and the evidence shows these can be implemented fairly, without disproportionately harming the poorest in society.” 

The Taskforce recently released five papers published by The Lancet that shows poverty drives and is driven by NCDS, but that financial protection from high medical costs can break this cycle; price policies and taxation are effective means to reduce NCD risk factors, such as tobacco and unhealthy diet, and can reduce inequalities; and that investment in NCD control results in increased economic growth.