The NCD Alliance welcomes the focus on health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the final report of the UN High-level Panel (HLP) on the post-2015 development agenda. The report, A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, recognises that health outcomes can only be achieved by ensuring equity in all three dimensions of sustainable development - social, economic and environmental - and through steady progress towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC).
The report provides an illustrative framework of 12 goals and 54 indicators for the post-2015 era. The inclusion of a stand-alone health goal to “ensure healthy lives”, alongside other ambitious goals such as to “end poverty”, “empower women”, and “ensure food security and good nutrition” demonstrates recognition for the centrality of health to sustainable development. Included within this suggested health goal is a target for countries to “reduce the burden of disease from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and priority non-communicable diseases.”
Cary Adams, Chair of the NCD Alliance says, “This report reaffirms NCDs as a global health challenge and a development priority. No country – rich or poor – is immune from this devastating epidemic. The target to reduce the burden of major disease, including NCDs, has the potential to save millions of people from avoidable death and disability, and it is central to eradicating extreme poverty within a generation”.
Many of the HLP recommendations align closely with the recently launched NCD Alliance vision for health in the post-2015 agenda, entitled "Healthy Planet, Healthy People.''
But while the HLP report is a good start from a health and NCD perspective, there is room for improvement. First and foremost, health must be recognised as a fundamental human right. Second, the definition of NCDs must be aligned to the World Health Organizations’s (WHO) definition. Chronic respiratory disease, on of the four major NCDs, is currently absent. Third, the description of NCDs needs to be strengthened in the narrative. Specifically, the report should recognise that while NCDs are a universal issue, they impact disproportionately on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); and greater attention should be given to the major NCD risk factors - including tobacco use, which is the world’s leading preventable cause of death. Finally, the food security and nutrition goal currently does not address overweight and obesity, which is a major driver of the NCD epidemic and ill health. Evidence clearly demonstrates that both stunting and overweight/obesity need to be tackled together.
The HLP report is an important contribution in the journey towards agreeing a new development framework before the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015. As the process goes forward, the NCD Alliance will seek to reinforce NCDs and their risk factors as an imperative for development in post-2015, and strengthen the commitments on a people-centred, holistic approach to health.
Notes to editors
Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development”