Today is a historic moment for the non-communicable disease (NCD) community. This morning, world leaders formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York. These 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets will drive efforts to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, improve health and wellbeing, and protect our planet over the next fifteen years. For the first time, NCDs are included in these goals as a sustainable development priority for all countries.
“This victory marks the culmination of a six year campaign led by the NCD Alliance”, said Mr José Luis Castro, Chair of the NCD Alliance and Executive Director of The Union. "In 2009 when the NCD Alliance was founded, one of the four initial goals was to secure NCDs - namely diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, and mental/neurological disorders - in the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since then, the NCD Alliance has worked tirelessly with many partners and stakeholders to lay the foundations for this historic agreement today”.
The adoption of the SDGs marks an important shift from development for the poorest countries to sustainable development for all. Ms Johanna Ralston, Vice-Chair of the NCD Alliance and CEO of the World Heart Federation said “Never before have world leaders pledged common action across such a broad and universal policy agenda, focusing on both the unfinished business of the MDGs, plus new global challenges such as NCDs, climate change, peace and security, and inequality.”
Health is recognised as a precondition for and an outcome of sustainable human development in the 2030 Agenda. One of the 17 SDGs focuses on health (SDG3), pledging governments to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. To measure progress against this goal, there are 9 targets covering a range of global health priorities including maternal and child health, communicable diseases, universal health coverage, and NCDs.
Indeed three of the nine health targets focused on NCD-related issues, signalling a major evolution in global health priorities. Target 3.4 is to “reduce by one third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing”, which builds on the World Health Organization (WHO) “25x25” NCD target. Target 3.5 focuses on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including harmful use of alcohol, and target 3.6 sets out to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.
Also of importance are the means of implementation targets which help guide countries make progress, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAA) that provides a framework to catalyse investment in the SDGs. “With the inclusion of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as one of four means of implementation targets for SDG3, and tobacco taxation referenced in the AAAA, tobacco control is now clearly recognized by the UN as a strategy to address sustainable development and improve health”, said Mr Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) and member of the NCD Alliance Steering Group. Other means of implementation targets include improving access to essential medicines and vaccines, strengthening the health workforce, and managing health risk.
As a set of integrated and indivisible goals that balance the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental), the SDGs provide all stakeholders with a clear mandate for integration. The NCD response is no exception. NCDs and the major risk factors are linked with many of the other SDGs, including poverty, nutrition, gender equality, education, inequality, energy, urbanisation and climate change.
“The adoption of Agenda 2030 today marks a momentous achievement for the NCD community” said Ms Katie Dain, Executive Director of the NCD Alliance. “It is a time when we can be more optimistic about the future of prevention and control of NCDs than perhaps at any stage of recent history. As we celebrate the new Agenda we also encourage immediate action to realise the ambitious SDGs by their 2030 end-date.”