Poverty should not mean poor health, nor should ill health lead to poverty. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many people who live with NCDs in low- and middle-income countries. Indeed, NCDs are a costly proposition not only for patients and their families, but also for health systems. NCDs have a direct impact on economic development. Their impact is felt most among people during their prime working years. Health Ministries constantly balance the competing demands of emerging health threats, maternal and child health, infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS with the growing burden of NCDs. The worrying trajectory of NCDs reinforces the need for an increased commitment by countries to advancing universal health coverage (UHC) – a central element of SDG 3 and an important piece of the global response to this puzzle. At its core, UHC provides for a standard package of prevention, treatment and care for all citizens, while also protecting people from catastrophic financial ruin resulting from high-out-of-pocket health care costs. While each country must chart its own path to achieve UHC, realizing this goal calls for multisectoral collaboration and coordination. So, too, does the challenge of NCDs necessitate partnerships among countries, civil society, the private sector and multilateral institutions to develop sustainable, scalable solutions to address chronic disease. We need to work together to help countries attain UHC and dramatically reduce the burden of NCDs globally.
This piece was originally featured on the WHO website NCDs & Me.