2018: A Milestone Year in the Fight Against NCDs

New report on NCD Prevention & Adolescents Released

Guest Post from Liam Sollis, YHP Advocacy Manager, Plan International UK

2018 is set to be a milestone year in the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). As we gear up for the UN High Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs, we have an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of progress made in the prevention and control of NCDs and to assess, analyse and recalibrate strategies.

But it is more than just a moment of reflection, looking regretfully at opportunities missed or sluggish progress. Instead it can be a moment to galvanise action and inspire both political rhetoric and grass roots implementation. As such, we have two key recommendations regarding the HLM:

  1. to ensure the highest possible representation of relevant stakeholders at the meeting; and,
  2. to build in an increased focus on adolescent NCD prevention within the agenda.

High Level Representation

In January, the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board will determine when and where the HLM will be hosted. If they choose to host the HLM in New York this September it will mean heads of state, already in town for the UN General Assembly, are more likely to attend and offer the political impetus that is urgently needed in the fight against NCDs.

A focus on adolescent NCD prevention

The HLM can also provide the opportunity to unite two spheres that often operate in parallel, namely adolescent health and NCDs. Although 35% of the global burden of disease has its origins in adolescence, young people are rarely given adequate attention within the NCD discourse. Likewise, NCDs are often an afterthought in adolescent health policy despite evidence clearly demonstrating the need to address the social, environmental and commercial determinants driving risk factors among this age group.

That’s why we have partnered with some great organisations to develop our new report: Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Adolescents. The report outlines why we need to urgently tackle the drivers of ill-health that are established in childhood and adolescence including tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles.

The HLM will be a key opportunity to drive strong policy action and a shift in programming towards NCD prevention among adolescents. Our report gives some recommendations for action including policy and programmatic interventions, accountability reforms and increased adolescent participation. These demand interventions that are multi-level and multi-component. Interventions that are tailored specifically towards adolescents and engage families, schools, healthcare services and communities.

We hope you’ll read it and let us know what you think.