The World Health Organization High-Level Commission on NCD published June 1st the document “Time to deliver”, in which it has been working on since February, in Geneva, Switzerland. The report considers as “disappointing” the progress achieved so far in the fight against NCDs and lists six recommendations for international organizations, national and subnational governments, companies and members of civil society, in order to combine efforts and improve quality of life. The report will serve as the basis for the 3rd WHO High-Level Meeting on NCDs, which will take place September 27th in New York.
Today, at a press conference, the General Director of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explained that the reasons why there has been no progress yet: lack of political will, difficulties in setting priorities and scarce investment and technical capacity, among others. Consequently, the report issues six recommendations to solve these problems and combat NCDs more effectively:
- Heads of State and Government, not Ministers of Health only, should lead and implement policies regarding NCDs, through the creation of a proper legislative and economic scenario that integrates these diseases with Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In addition, they must involve subnational politicians so that they have an active participation in the local sphere.
- Governments should identify and implement a specific set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda, based on public health needs. Every country needs to focus on priority interventions that contribute to meet target 3 of SDG 4, which aims to reduce by one third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being for 2030.
- Governments should ensure that the national Universal Health Coverage includes NCD and mental health services, including health promotion and prevention and priority health care interventions as well as access to essential medicines and technologies.
- Governments should be encouraged to engage constructively with the private sector and civil society to coordinate the commercial interests of companies and public health objectives. Governments should negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine manufacturers to ensure access to affordable, quality-assured essential medicines and vaccines.
- States and the international community must develop a new economic paradigm to finance activities linked to NCDs. In addition, countries must increase the percentage of national budgets allocated to the promotion of public health.
- WHO should simplify the existing NCD accountability mechanism and establish clear tracking and accountability for the highest impact programmes. Likewise, governments should create or strengthen national accountability mechanisms.
Finally, the report includes an annex highlighting the WHO “best-buys” for the prevention and control of NCDs. As for cancer treatment, it proposes:
- Vaccination against human papillomavirus (2 doses) of 9–13 year old girls
- Prevention of cervical cancer by screening women aged 30–49, either through:
- Visual inspection with acetic acid linked with timely treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.
- Pap smear (cervical cytology) every 3–5 years linked with timely treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.
- Human papillomavirus test every 5 years linked with timely treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.