Lancet: Time to deliver: report of the WHO Independent High-Level Commission on Non Communicable Diseases

2 June, 2018

Below are the citation, introduction and selected extracts of a paper published yesterday online in The Lancet. With thanks to Global Health Now.

CITATION: Time to deliver: report of the WHO Independent High-Level Commission on NCDs

Sania Nishtar et al. The Lancet 2018



The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its pledge to leave no one behind, is our boldest agenda for humanity. It will require equally bold actions from Heads of State and Government. They must deliver on their time-bound promise to reduce, by one-third, premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Because many policy commitments are not being implemented, countries are not on track to achieve this target. Country actions against NCDs are uneven at best. National investments remain woefully small and not enough funds are being mobilised internationally. There is still a sense of business-as-usual rather than the urgency that is required. Plenty of policies have been drafted, but structures and resources to implement them are scarce.

The challenge is not only to gain political support, but also to guarantee implementation, whether through legislation, norms and standards setting, or investment. We need to keep arguing for NCDs and mental health to have greater priority, but countries must also take responsibility for delivery on agreed outputs and outcomes, as stated in endorsed documents. There is no excuse for inaction, as we have evidence-based solutions.

The WHO Independent High-level Commission on NCDs was convened by the WHO Director-General to advise him on bold recommendations on how countries can accelerate progress towards SDG target 3.4 on the prevention and treatment NCDs and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.


Governments should increase the empowerment of individuals to take action by actively promoting health literacy, including in formal education curricula, and targeted information and communication campaigns. This could include convening marketing experts and behavioural economists to develop public health campaigns designed to educate different populations on how best to prevent and mitigate the risk factors and harms of NCDs.

People living with NCDs and mental disorders and those at risk for them must be engaged and informed, through improved health literacy and mass-media campaigns that are responsive to local needs and contexts. Integrating education and skills to maintain and improve health into educational systems and school curricula is a universal and low-cost option to improve health literacy. People living with NCDs and mental disorders and those at risk for them must participate and be informed so that they can contribute to the achievement of national priorities and goals, particularly those related to prevention...

Coverage for health promotion and NCD prevention and management, including mental disorders, should be part of UHC entitlements and included in a UHC public benefits package.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: