NCDs account for 60 per cent of the global disease burden. These include diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases, which together contribute to an estimated 35 million deaths per year globally.
These are not diseases of the “rich”, since 80 per cent of the global deaths are within low and middle income countries.
Alarmingly, the incidence of NCDs is rising. This places an ever growing strain on health systems and economies and poses a serious threat to sustainable development. Fortunately, the risk factors of NCDs - obesity, physical inactivity, excess alcohol intake and tobacco use - can be prevented or modified.
The work of the Commonwealth Secretariat:
Commonwealth Heads of Governments met in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 affirming their commitment to address and respond to the growing epidemic of NCDs. A statement on “Commonwealth action to combat NCDs” called for an accelerated response to the epidemic and for the United Nations to host a summit to address these diseases.
Prior to this in 2007, Commonwealth health ministers discussed “Lifestyle Diseases: Health Systems Approaches” in recognition of the increasing burden of NCDs.
Commonwealth health ministers met in Geneva in May 2010 and adopted the Commonwealth Secretariat Road Map on NCDs. This ‘Road Map’ seeks to operationalise the Commonwealth Heads of Governments’ statement, listing activities to be implemented by the Secretariat.
The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) in 2011 was held in Geneva under the theme: “Non-communicable diseases – A priority for the Commonwealth”.