Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and chronic respiratory infections and cancers – are a leading cause of death worldwide; an estimated 36 million people die from such diseases each year, or roughly two out of three deaths globally; 80 percent of these fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries.[i] These deaths are largely preventable, both through programs aimed at reducing high-risk behaviors and environments and also through improved treatment delivery for patients who need chronic care.
There has been growing awareness in the global health community of NCDs as primary threats to individuals, communities, health-system infrastructures and economic development. In low- and middle-income countries, where the disease burden is transitioning from communicable to non-communicable diseases, many populations are currently suffering a double burden. There are clear roles for the private sector as well as the public sector and civil society to work together to address the growing challenge of NCDs. Yet given the global fiscal crisis of recent years, it is unrealistic to expect large pools of new resources from traditional donors. Policy makers need to decide how best to incorporate NCD responses into existing funding streams and programs. We need recommendations for action that are sustainable in the current political and economic landscape.
This was the context in which the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health and the Study of Business Enterprise convened an NCD Working Group of leading scholars to analyze gaps in NCD research and policy and to make actionable recommendations to close the gaps.[ii] Addressing the Gaps in Policy and Research for Non-Communicable Diseases comprise a set of policy briefs that focus on five areas where health systems need strengthening to address gaps in the provision of NCD care and treatment: structuring supply chains, accelerating regulatory harmonization, improving access to interventions, restructuring primary care, and promoting multi-sectoral action. Together they develop a pragmatic agenda for reducing the burden of NCDs and provide an initial roadmap for policy development and progress in the fight against these chronic conditions
[i] World Health Organization, Global status report on non-communicable diseases, 2010. Geneva: WHO, 2011.
[ii] The members of the NCD Working Group are: Sir George Alleyne (former director, PAHO), Robert Black (Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University), Felicia Knaul (Harvard Global Equity Initiative), Margaret Kruk (Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University), Louis Galambos (Johns Hopkins University), Richard Laing (WHO), Soeren Mattke (RAND Corporation), Sania Nishtar (Heartfile Pakistan), Tom Quinn (Center for Global Health, Johns Hopkins University), Kenji Shibuya (Tokyo University), Jeffrey L. Sturchio (Rabin Martin and Johns Hopkins University), Brian White-Guay (Université de Montreal), and Prashant Yadav (University of Michigan).