News and Blog Posts

On July 14, 2016, the Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable in collaboration with the Congressional Global Health Caucus held the Congressional Briefing, “The Global Threat of Noncommunicable Diseases” at the Rayburn House Office Building.

A panel of experts discussed the global economic and public health impact of NCDs. Some major points of discussion included the strain NCDs put on health systems due to increased demand for high cost health services, which subsequently reduces international trade and development. The potential for NCDs to cause burdens on institutional capacity and the pressure of the population’s unmet needs for chronic-care services was also highlighted. Additionally, an emphasis was placed on the importance of public-private partnerships to strengthen health systems and expand access to health services. Speakers also stressed the need for funding for programs to reduce NCDs, as they are crucial for public health and the global economy.

Thomas J. Bollyky, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Economics, and Development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), discussed the creation of the first CFR task force devoted to global health. He noted that though NCDs are typically viewed as a problem that mainly affects developed countries, they are also on the rise in low-and middle-income economies. He also pointed out that lower-income countries have the worst health outcomes. Bollyky emphasized that NCDs are not merely a byproduct of success and unhealthy lifestyles, noting that the rise of NCDs exceeds the decline of infectious diseases in developing countries. Bollyky also pointed to the need for a reallocation of global health funds toward NCDs, as the amount of funding they currently receive is disproportionate to the health burden they pose in US priority countries.

Bollyky described the array of consequences of NCDs for individuals and households, health systems, and national economies and governments. For individuals and households, NCDs can lead to impoverishment and high risk of children developing NCDs. For health systems, NCDs can lead increased demand for high cost health services and diminished capacity to address other health needs. For national economies and governments, reduced labor supply and lower tax revenue, both of which may cause political pressure because of unmet population needs can result from NCDs. All these combine to produce global and regional effects that include poorer global health, reduced international trade and development, and political instability.

Rachel Nugent, Vice President for Global Noncommunicable Diseases at RTI International, discussed the work RTI has done to prevent and reduce the health and economic burdens of chronic non-communicable diseases in low and middle income countries. She mentioned that this work aims to achieve a one-third reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2030 as part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.4.

John F. Steele, Senior Director, International Government Affairs, for Eli Lilly, discussed NCDs through the lens of healthcare economics, addressing the impact of wellness on workforce productivity. A Victoria University study on the link between health and productivity estimates the impact absenteeism (sick and absent from work), presenteeism (present at work but not working at full capacity due to health), and early retirement due to ill health. Steele pointed out that some countries have a rapidly ageing workforce, so keeping those workers healthy becomes an issue for economic growth and development, especially as the burden of NCDs rises steeply with age. Steele also noted that presenteeism has a far greater cost to productivity than absenteeism and early retirement, averaging a 3.3% GDP loss, as opposed to 1.3% and 2.4%. respectively.

Steele called for the formation of public-private partnerships in order to address the problems posed by NCDs. He used the ongoing work of Lily as a case study in public-private partnerships for NCD intervention. Their activities include strengthening healthcare systems, finding community-based health solutions that can be adapted, replicated, and scaled, and expanding access to medicines. To do this, Lily partners with leading health organizations and focuses its efforts on 4 countries with high NCD burdens: Brazil, Mexico, India, and South Africa. In South Africa, Lily partners with organizations such as the Donald Woods Foundation and Project HOPE to combat the rising burden of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, address the shortage of qualified clinicians, and reduce socio-economic disparities that lead to setting-specific healthcare challenges. Steele called for government and business to work together in the areas of prevention and treatment, organizational innovation, financing, and healthcare infrastructure.

The NCD Roundtable will be hosting additional events at various locations and on different subsets of the NCD issue.

Panel slides

Panel bios

Globally, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, account for six times as many deaths as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Over the next 15 years, the World Economic Forum projects an economic loss of $47 trillion from NCDs.

Despite this burden, only 3% of development assistance for health is targeted toward NCDs.

To address this gap, the American Heart Association, the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the NCD Roundtable published the brief, “Prevention & Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDS)” to provide findings and recommendations for how the US Government can better address the growing threat of NCDs. Recommendations include harmonizing NCD definitions through an inter-agency process, leveraging the expertise of diverse agencies alongside private investments, and continual funding of multilateral institutions that combat NCDs. Overall, a coherent and overarching strategy can help leverage US agencies’ unique expertise and current investments to promote a world of improved health and well-being. Together we can combat the growing threat of NCDs through an overarching and unified strategy.

The summary and full report can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Summary: Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

Full Report: US Government Engagement and Investments in Global Noncommunicable Diseases

The Roundtable recently sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee commending report language in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies Appropriations that calls for USAID to consult with the Committee on the estimated need and cost-effectiveness of programs that focus on a number of child health issues including non-communicable diseases. A letter requesting similar language in FY16 Appropriations was sent to the Senate. Read the letters here:

House Letter

Senate Letter

Global Progress, National Action: Moving from Commitment to Implementation

Several NCD RT members participated in the June 19, 2014 United Nations (UN) Informal Interactive Hearing on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The hearing was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector, and academia  from around the world. The featured speaker during the Opening Session was Ms. Sally Cowal, Senior Vice President, Global Health at the American Cancer Society, a NCD RT member organization. In addition, the NCD RT members listed below provided statements on NCDs and the progress to date. Please click on the hyperlinks to find out more about the organization or to read the statements.

Alzheimer’s Disease International
Mike Splaine, ADI Statement
Jason Hatke (roundtable participant), ADI Statement

American Academy of Pediatrics/NCD Child
Mychelle Farmer, AAP Statement

The American College of Cardiology
Dr. John Harold, ACC Testimony

American College of Sports Medicine
Maria Stefan, Senior Advisor, Global Partnerships on behalf of Jim Whitehead, CEO & Executive Vice President, ACSM Statement

American Heart Association
Diana Vaca McGhie, AHA Statement

Action on Smoking and Health/Framework Convention Alliance
Shana Narula, ASH/FCA Statement
Carlos Farias, FCA Statement (in Spanish)
Other links:
Post-2015/NCD (ASH)
Action now global agenda (FCA)

International Food Information Council
Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, IFIC Testimony
IFIC Foundation Press Release
IFIC Foundation Written Comments Submitted to the UN

Medtronic Philanthropy
Prasang Hiniduma-Lokuge, Medtronic Statement

Public Health Institute
Dr. Lynn Silver, Senior Advisor, PHI Statement

It’s hard to believe just a few of years ago NCDs were an outlier at WHO’s annual meeting, barely featuring on the agenda. People still questioned whether it should be a focus of member-state negotiations, in lieu of other pressing priorities and plans. We know by now that times have changed, spurred by events like the UN summit on NCDs and the overwhelming evidence justifying countries take meaningful action to address their growing global health burden.

Read the whole article at the Global Health Council website.

The Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable was founded in 2010 to be a neutral platform and credible voice for information sharing, advocacy, communications, collaboration and best practices around NCD issues among members and with global health decision makers in Washington, DC, with a particular focus on the executive and legislative branches of the United States Government and multilateral institutions.  The following case studies highlight significant accomplishments of the NCD Roundtable over the past year and are submitted to the NCD Alliance for consideration to include in the NCD Alliance May 2013-May 2014 Annual Report.

1) Meetings with US Government Agencies
Category: Awareness-raising and accountability initiatives

The NCD Roundtable organized meetings for its members with high-level representatives from several US Government agencies involved in global health and NCDs.  The meetings held on September 6, 2013 and December 18, 2013 were led by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs, and included the State Department, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Agency for International Development. Discussion topics included:  multilateral forums on NCDs, USG funding for NCDs in global health, NCD Roundtable as a resource, and NCDs in the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

2) Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Creating Synergies for Sustainable Development
Category: Awareness-raising and accountability initiatives

On September 23, 2013, the NCD Alliance and NCD Roundtable joined forces with the US Government and CARICOM, to co-host a multi-stakeholder panel discussion. Positioned as a complement to the UN Special Event on MDGs and as a follow-up to the September 2011 UN High-Level Summit on NCDs, the event bridged health, NCDs, and sustainable development. An esteemed panel of change-makers discussed the importance of including NCDs in the post-2015 framework and the challenges of integrating health across all dimensions of sustainable development. Participants discussed a multi-sectoral joint response to the NCD epidemic by leveraging existing partnerships and best practices.

Photo 1

On occasion of UN Side Event on Post-2015 MDGs, the NCDA, NCDRT, US Government and CARICOM co-hosts a high-level health and sustainable development discussion with leaders from NGOs, government and business, moderated by The Lancet. September 23, 2013.

3) Congressional Testimony
Category: Advocacy with governments

On March 19, 2013 in a congressional testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Loyce Pace Bass, co-chair of the NCD Roundtable Advocacy Working Group and the Director of Health Policy for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, highlighted the need to address the growing burden of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in developing countries. She urged members to maintain funding for important US Global Health Programs while noting US agencies and the private sector have been demonstrating what can be done in countries by leveraging existing platforms and with limited resources or even with no new funding.

Photo 2

Photo by Ken Cedeno Photography

4) InterAction Brief
Category: Advocacy with governments and Awareness-raising and accountability initiatives

The NCD Roundtable created a briefing tool for policymakers unfamiliar with the global NCDs crisis. The document was included in the coalition InterAction’s Global Health Briefing Book, which was rolled out to all Congressional offices on April 8, 2013. The briefing paper lays out the epidemiology of NCDs, the US Government’s role in the crisis, and future opportunities. The briefing paper can be accessed at:

5) Letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Category: Advocacy with governments

Following the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA), 20 member organizations of the NCD Roundtable sent a letter dated June 20, 2013 to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services expressing their gratitude and support for the work of the US Delegation to the WHA. The US played a key leadership role in the adoption by the WHA of an omnibus resolution on NCDs, which incorporated significant goals and targets for NCDs, a multistakeholder approach and set a plan to develop a global coordinating mechanism for NCDs by the end of 2013. The June 20, 2013 letter can be accessed at:

6) Post-2015 Position Statement
Category: Awareness-raising and accountability initiatives

The NCD Roundtable, together with other stakeholders, has an interest in making sure the successors to the Millennium Development Goals ending in 2015 incorporate the most urgent needs in today’s world.  The members of the Roundtable believe that NCDs represent significant threats to global development, and unless action is taken, will greatly impede progress toward the elimination of poverty. In December 2013, the NCD Roundtable developed a position statement on the post-2015 sustainable development goals to help guide progress toward including NCDs in the post-2015 framework now under consideration. The position statement can be accessed at:

NCD Roundtable members, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the LIVESTRONG Foundation (LIVESTRONG), sponsored a Congressional staff study tour to Uganda and Rwanda from February 14-23, 2014. The tour focused on examining the key elements of the countries’ health systems with a particular focus on how the countries are addressing NCDs.

Learn more about the study.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) has recently shared its latest infographic dedicated to public health and obesity.

“Obesity is a serious and costly health problem facing our nation. The number of kids and teens who are obese has nearly tripled in the past three decades, leading to a generation at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other serious health problems. However, there is hope. For the first time in recent years, obesity rates have declined. Innovative public health approaches and partnerships are contributing to improved food choices and creating opportunities for physical activity, helping to curb obesity. We must continue to fund public health programs to ensure healthy futures for all of our nation’s children” via APHA

See the full infographic here: APHA Obesity infographic

Sister to Sister The Heart Health Foundation has released a new infographic describing the financial and personal costs of heart disease in both the U.S. and globally. “While heart disease is 82% preventable, it remains one of the largest line-items in the global health care budget. We believe that these stark statistics need to be part of all conversations regarding the fight against heart disease.”

“Sister to Sister Foundation is the first organization with a mission dedicated solely to women’s heart disease prevention and education. We empower women through positive messaging to make simple, manageable lifestyle changes in their daily lives to lead to improved heart-health.  This includes recommendations for nutrition and healthy cooking, sodium reduction, physical activity, smoking cessation, managing stress and family health history.”

View the PDF version of the infographic  here

The NCD Roundtable, together with other stakeholders, has an interest in making sure the successors to the Millennium Development Goals ending in 2015 incorporate the most urgent needs in today’s world.  The members of the Roundtable believe that NCDs represent significant threats to global development, and unless action is taken, will greatly impede progress toward the elimination of poverty.

The Roundtable, in December 2013, developed a position statement on the post-2015 sustainable development goals to help guide progress toward including NCDs in the post-2015 framework now under consideration.

The position statement can be viewed here