While little can be done yet about the genetic factors, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension risks can be reduced (primary prevention) through healthy diet and regular physical exercise. People with diabetes and hypertension can reduce complications (secondary prevention) through carefully managed care. Once complications have set in, their prompt treatment (tertiary prevention) is essential to preserve quality of life and reduce disability and handicap.

The focus on diabetes and hypertension is justified by their huge public health significance. On their own, and especially in combination, these cause by far the most global NCD deaths – some 1.6 million deaths yearly are attributed to diabetes, and 5.7 million are attributed to hypertension (out of some 17.7 million from cardiovascular conditions more broadly).

Worldwide, diabetes is the 8th overall leading cause of death (5th in women) with 3.7 million deaths related to blood glucose levels in 2012. It is projected to become the 7th biggest cause of death by 2030. In 2014, 422 million people had diabetes, equating to an adult prevalence of 8.5%. This is expected to increase to 10% by 2035.

The Partnership is focusing initially on diabetes and hypertension, and expanding to other NCDs when feasible and working with governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, philanthropic foundations, and the private sector. It is following WHO’s policies and expert guidance on “best buys,” and technical standards for NCD management, with impact tracked through its periodic NCD Progress Monitor reports.

The Partnership works by mobilising global knowledge, tools, capacities, and finances to benefit resource-poor countries according to their specific needs and defined NCD action plans. This includes the populations of humanitarian concern that are hosted by them. The priority focus is on the 49 least developed and low-income countries with technical capacity building support also available to a further 43 lower middle-income countries.

The Defeat-NCD Partnership prioritises countries according to their development and income status. Top priority is being given to the least developed countries (LDCs), as defined by the United Nations, and low-income countries (LICs), as defined by the World Bank. Accordingly, 49 countries are designated Priority I countries for the purposes of this Partnership. Middle-income countries (MICs) are classed by the World Bank into upper and lower middle-income countries, and there are 43 lower middle-income countries (LMICs) that are designated Priority II countries for the Partnership.