The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday launched a new global network aimed at scaling up world action to combat noncommunicable diseases, which cause some 38 million deaths annually.
The Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) will unite currently fragmented efforts by bringing the cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory communities together with tobacco control, healthy diets, and physical activity advocates, the UN agency said in a statement.
The network will scale up action to combat noncommunicable diseases, strengthen global partnerships and help governments plan and implement measures to reduce the burden of these diseases, the statement said.
According to the WHO, noncommunicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases and common injuries account for the vast majority of all global deaths, but because they are not yet included as priorities in the global development agenda, donors and international organizations have yet to pledge support to help developing countries address these leading health problems.
"Integrating the prevention of noncommunicable diseases and injuries into the national and global development agendas is not only achievable but also a priority for developing countries," said Dr. Ala Alwan, WHO's assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health.
"The goals of the new network are to increase focus on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, to increase resource availability and to catalyze effective multi-stakeholder action at global and country levels," Alwan said in the statement.
Strengthened by the support of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and leading NGOs such as the World Heart Federation, the International Diabetes Federation and the International Union against Cancer, NCDnet will advocate for action to raise the priority accorded to noncommunicable diseases in development work at global and national levels, according to the statement.
Noncommunicable diseases together with injuries are responsible for some 70 percent of all global deaths, with 80 percent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
The WHO estimates that globally, deaths from noncommunicable diseases are forecast to increase by 17 percent over the next 10 years.