Global Community Must Reevaluate Thinking Around, Approach To Addressing NCDs

The Lancet: Offline: Time to radically rethink non-communicable diseases
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…[G]lobal health actions, although necessary, are not sufficient to achieve human health and wellbeing. Unless global health leaders reinterpret, resituate, and reactivate their advocacy and practice in the context of an urgent planetary emergency, their well-intentioned words will be wasted. Perhaps the best example of this misplaced thinking is to be found in the strategies to prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) — a global movement that is dangerously off course. … [A]ny political action to attack NCDs demands equal attention to the connected crises of climate change and nutrition. There is, therefore, a compelling case for a wholesale reappraisal of global health’s approach to NCDs. … Applying a syndemic approach [– the Lancet Commission on the Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change defined a syndemic as a ‘synergy of epidemics’ or components that ‘co-occur in time and place, interact with each other to produce complex sequelae, and share common underlying societal drivers’ –] indeed opens new opportunities for accelerating action to advance health. But it is no panacea. … The unsolved paradox is that policies that would produce the greatest health impact receive the least attention. Why? Here is the alarming truth: our economies are incentivized to earn vast private wealth by increasing public risks for NCDs. Until that truth is accepted and addressed, NCDs will remain part of an unchecked planetary emergency” (5/11).