Publication: Effective Responses to Non-communicable Diseases : Embracing Action Beyond the Health Sector

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Meiro-Lorenzo, Montserrat
Villafana, Tonya L.
Harrit, Margaret N.
Effective responses to non-communicable disease: Embracing action beyond the health sector focuses on solutions, indicating opportunities for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the kinds of actions that will achieve it. NCDs exact a heavy toll on individuals and society. They cause disease, disability, and death, and reduce productivity which is vital for development. They also impose hefty costs on health services, particularly since NCDs frequently lead to ongoing disability and need for long-term care. Prevention that results in healthy aging and the reduction of morbidity is far more cost-effective and financially sustainable than treatment alone. A small number of proven prevention measures could stem the rise of the NCD epidemic. Data indicate the potential of affordable, potent, prevention tools focused on five key areas: tobacco, alcohol, diet, exercise and nutrition. Together, programs targeting these areas could reduce the burden of NCDs by more than half, while costing only a tiny fraction of current health spending. Since successful prevention involves multiple sectors and actors, countries will need to adopt a framework that clearly sets out the different levels of accountability of each role player. Such a framework will require strong national buy-in, but there are tools, examples, and support agencies available to facilitate this. Middle- and low-income countries can seize the opportunity and act now to tackle NCDs and the underlying risk factors of these diseases. If they do so, these countries will greatly increase their prospects of reaping the full benefits of their demographic dividend, and of ensuring sustained economic development, greater equality, and a better quality of life for their people in the years ahead.
Meiro-Lorenzo, Montserrat; Villafana, Tonya L.; Harrit, Margaret N.. 2011. Effective Responses to Non-communicable Diseases : Embracing Action Beyond the Health Sector. Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) discussion paper;. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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