Health and Healthcare Systems

WHO issues new list of interventions to tackle non-communicable diseases

The updated list of NCD best buys is a valuable resource for policymakers and health workers who are working to prevent and treat NCDs.

The updated list of NCD 'best buys' is a valuable resource for policymakers and health workers who are working to prevent and treat NCDs. Image: Pexels/RDNE Stock project

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  • The WHO's NCD 'best buys' are a set of interventions and policies that have been shown to be effective in preventing and treating NCDs.
  • The updated list includes 11 new interventions, bringing the total number of NCD best buys to 28.
  • NCDs are a group of chronic diseases that are not contagious, but are responsible for 74% of all deaths. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
  • The updated list of NCD best buys will help countries to select the most effective and cost-efficient interventions to improve the health of their citizens.

The World Health Organization has expanded the list of ‘NCD best buys’. The updated list was approved at the 76th World Health Assembly, a move that will support governments to select lifesaving interventions and policies for the world’s biggest killers, noncommunicable diseases. This gives countries of every income level support to improve the health of their citizens.

Interventions offered include taxes and bans on advertising for tobacco and alcohol, reformulation policies for healthier food and drinks and the promotion and support of optimal breastfeeding practices.

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The new list also includes secondary prevention for rheumatic fever, acute and long-term management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as several cancer control interventions related to cervical, breast, colorectal, liver and childhood cancer, and the comprehensive treatment of cancer for those living with HIV.

The updated best buys come with a whole menu of policy options and cost-effective interventions that will help governments prioritise investments according to their specific country context. Investing in evidence-based policies is an investment in a healthy future.

Dr Bente Mikkelsen. Director NCD Department, World Health Organization

The latest revision was updated to reflect WHO’s recommendations and guidance and the latest scientific evidence on impact. The report is part of the NCDs Global Action Plan 2023-2030 and is an update from 2017 and is core to the Implementation Roadmap on NCDs. Each revision is based on new WHO normative and standard-setting products, new evidence and data to expand and update the interventions.

The updated list continues to support that NCD prevention and control is a remarkable bargain that can save millions of lives and add millions of healthy life-years.

These interventions can help support countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and the promotion mental health and well-being worldwide by 2030.

They also provide an opportunity to accelerate national action to prevent and control NCDs to reduce suffering and prevent deaths and pave the way for political commitment at the fourth High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in 2025.

The World Health Assembly resolution mandates that the intervention list be continuously updated, when data are available.

Have you read?

List of Expanded NCD Best Buys

Tobacco

1. Increase excise taxes and prices on tobacco products

2. Implement large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packages, accompanied by plain/standardized packaging

3. Enact and enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

4. Eliminate exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in all indoor workplaces, public places, public transport

5. Implement effective mass media campaigns that educate the public about the harms of smoking/tobacco use and secondhand smoke, and encourage behavior change

6. Provision of cost-covered effective population-wide support (including brief advice, national toll-free quit line services and mCessation) for tobacco cessation to all tobacco users

Alcohol

7. Increase excise taxes on alcoholic beverages

8. Enact and enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on exposure to alcohol advertising (across multiple types of media)

9. Enact and enforce restrictions on the physical availaility of retailed alcohol (via reduced hours of sale)

Unhealthy Diet

10. Reformulation policies for healthier food and beverage products (e.g. elimination of transfatty acids and/or reduction of saturated fats, free sugars and/or sodium)

11. Front-of-pack labelling as part of comprehensive nutrition labelling policies for facilitating consumers’ understanding and choice of food for healthy diets

12. Public food procurement and service policies for healthy diets (e.g. to reduce the intake of free sugars, sodium, unhealthy fats, and to increase the consumption of legumes, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables)

13. Behaviour change communication and mass media campaign for healthy diets (e.g. to reduce the intake of energy, free sugars, sodium, unhealthy fats, and to increase the consumption of legumes, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables)

14. Policies to protect children from the harmful impact of food marketing on diet

15. Protection, promotion and support of optimal breastfeeding practices

Physical Inactivity

16. Implement sustained, population wide, best practice communication campaigns to promote physical activity, with links to community-based programmes and environmental improvements to enable and support behaviour change

Cardiovascular Diseases

17. Secondary prevention of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease by developing a register of patients who receive regular prophylactic penicillin

Chronic Respiratory Diseases

18. Acute treatment of asthma exacerbations with inhaled bronchodilators and oral steroids

19. Acute treatment of COPD exacerbations with inhaled bronchodilators and oral steroids

20. Long-term management of COPD with inhaled bronchodilator

Cancer

21. Vaccination against human papillomavirus (1-2 doses) of 9–14 year old girls

22. Cervical cancer: HPV DNA screening, starting at the age of 30 years with regular screening every 5 to 10 years (using a screen-and-treat approach or screen, triage and treat approach)

23. Cervical cancer: early diagnosis programs linked with timely diagnostic work-up and comprehensive cancer treatment

24. Breast cancer: early diagnosis programs linked with timely diagnostic work-up and comprehensive cancer treatment

25. Colorectal cancer: early diagnosis programs linked with timely diagnostic work-up and comprehensive cancer treatment

26. Prevention of liver cancer through hepatitis B immunization

27. Childhood cancer: early diagnosis programs linked with timely diagnostic work-up and comprehensive cancer treatment, focusing on 6 index cancers of WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer

28. Early detection and comprehensive treatment of cancer for those living with HIV

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