International Community, U.S. Should Increase Resources, Mandate For Fighting NCDs In Developing World

In this Foreign Affairs essay, Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the developing world, writing, “When most people in developed countries think of the biggest health challenges confronting the developing world, they envision a small boy in a rural, dusty village beset by an exotic parasite or bacterial blight,” but “NCDs in developing countries are occurring more rapidly, arising in younger people, and leading to far worse health outcomes than ever seen in developed countries.” He notes, “According to the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Risks report, these diseases pose a greater threat to global economic development than fiscal crises, natural disasters, corruption, or infectious disease.”

Bollyky discusses a lack of funding and concrete targets for reducing NCDs, highlights disparities in the NCD incidence between developing countries and the developed world, and notes that, while NCDs “are preventable or treatable in developed countries,” they “are often death sentences in the developing world.” He examines the reasons behind the “exploding NCD crisis,” discusses existing prevention and treatment measures, and provides a brief history of the fight against NCDs since the WHO “first called attention to the problem in 1996.” He concludes, “To move forward, the international community should focus on the NCDs and risk factors especially prevalent among the developing-country poor and on the particular needs of their governments to address them. … To meet this challenge, the United States will need to recalibrate its approach to global health,” “providing more resources and a greater mandate to support the efforts of their developing-country counterparts” (May/June 2012).  

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