The policy agenda for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases

Br Med Bull. 2010;96:23-43. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldq037. Epub 2010 Nov 8.


Robust national policies and strategies developed and owned by national authorities are fundamental for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The objective of this paper is to address broad policy areas in respect of NCD prevention and control from a public health perspective, with a special focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The paper is a condensation of current World Health Organization (WHO) reports in this field supported by relevant literature obtained from a Medline search for the period 2000-2010. There is a strong evidence base that underpins the NCD policy agenda. National NCD policies can make a substantive impact on public health in LMIC if they are geared to addressing primary prevention and equity of health systems. National NCD policies help to catalyse, and coherently integrate regulatory, legislative and multisectoral actions across health and other health relevant sectors. Such multisectoral action is integral for creation of conducive environments to support healthy behaviours. There is agreement that health systems need reconfiguration to ensure equitable access to essential NCD interventions. Although the magnitude of the NCD burden is high and is growing in LMIC, international development assistance to address the burden remains negligible. How exactly gaps in formulation, and implementation of NCD policies can be addressed when there are severe limitations in human resource capacity, financial resources and competing health priorities in LMIC is not clear. Context-specific research is required to address implementation gaps in NCD policy, as policy development and implementation are driven by political realities and cultural specificities. Research is also needed to develop innovative approaches for revenue generation for prevention and control of NCDs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Public Health Administration / methods
  • Social Justice