The Defeat-NCD Partnership was established in January 2018 to help tackle the most significant global health problem of the age: premature death, sickness, disability, and the associated social and economic impacts of selected non-communicable diseases. The initial focus is on diabetes and hypertension with expansion to other NCDs in due course probably starting with the early detection and treatment of cervical and breast cancer.
The Partnership was born from the recognition that NCDs are now the major contributor to the global burden of disease. They kill at least 40 million people each year, the equivalent to 70% of all deaths globally. Each year, there are 15 million “premature” deaths (i.e., below the age of 70 years) from NCDs. Continuing with business as usual will increase this by a third by 2030. NCDs are not just medical problems. They have huge personal, social and economic impacts and their rising prevalence is a serious setback for human and national development.
Our focus on diabetes and hypertension is justified by the public health burden. Each, on its own and in combination, cause most of the global NCD deaths. At the same time, the risk factors that lead to raised blood sugar and blood pressure are reducible. Both diabetes and hypertension are easily treatable and their complications largely avoidable.
The Defeat-NCD Partnership prioritises poorer countries because they bear the brunt of the enormous impact of NCDs with some 48% of premature deaths occurring in low and lower-middle income countries. The resident of a low-income country faces a lifetime chance of 20-30% of dying from an NCD under the age of 70; this is two-to-four-fold higher than the equivalent risk for a high-income country resident. Meanwhile, when poor countries start getting a little more prosperous, the prevalence of NCD risk factors tend to initially increase.