Spotlight: COVID-19 Deaths Also Rooted in NCD Epidemic
Every year, 41 million people die from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, lung disease and cancer. These account for seven out of every 10 deaths worldwide, with deeply inequitable impact—more than 80% occur in countries with high levels of poverty. This is a crisis that governments and civil society have too long accepted as inevitable. In most cases, NCDs are preventable, if we only have the will to address their drivers by creating and strengthening policies that prioritize health—from food and alcohol policy to tobacco control and air quality improvement.
COVID-19 has thrust NCDs into the spotlight, as comorbidity from NCDs are driving pandemic deaths. In addition, because of attention paid to the emergency of the pandemic, NCDs are going untreated and undiagnosed and action against them has been deprioritized.
We can’t realize our best, healthiest future without sustained focus on prevention and addressing NCDs. Over the past year, even as Vital Strategies supported governments responding to COVID-19, we continued our core mission promoting policies, developing communication campaigns, and publishing research that advanced work against NCDs. We’re proud to have contributed to victories such as the passage of new tobacco control policies that will cover hundreds of millions of people, publishing a landmark study of the leading sources of air pollution in Jakarta, and supporting Brazil in the successful passage of a new front-of-package labeling standard for food products.
And into 2021, as we help countries rebuild and strengthen their health systems in the wake of COVID-19, we will continue to push for progress.
—José Luis Castro President and CEO, Vital Strategies