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WHO report highlights impact of COVID-19 pandemic on non-communicable diseases

These diseases were responsible for an estimated 40 million of all deaths globally in 2019

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a new report highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to medicines for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Also known as chronic diseases, the main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

According to WHO, NCDs were responsible for an estimated 40 million of all deaths globally in 2019, with the majority of these occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

The global burden of NCD mortality continues to rise, the agency says, and is projected to reach more than 100 million deaths annually by 2025.

The new report, Access to NCD medicines: emergent issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and key structural factors, reviews the impact of the pandemic on supply chains for NCD medicines, identifies key vulnerabilities, and proposes actions and a framework for future NCD policy development.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges that people living with NCDs face in accessing essential medicines,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen, director of the department of noncommunicable diseases at WHO. “Many have had their treatment disrupted, which can lead to serious health consequences.”

The report reveals the ‘lack of adequate’ investment in Primary Health Care and Universal Health Coverage, leading to a 50-60% disruption for all major NCD services in more than 70% of countries.

WHO emphasises an ‘urgent need’ to identify weaknesses in the global NCD supply chain to prepare for future pandemics, with the report recommending actions and interventions for key stakeholders in the NCD pharmaceutical supply chain.

This includes a requirement for countries to look at their supply chains, strengthen and expand medicine shortage notification systems, build flexibility into their regulatory measures and minimise barriers to trade.

“Actions are needed to strengthen the resilience of medicine supply chains, globally and in country, to respond to today’s needs and to prepare for emerging challenges, including emergencies and pandemics,” said Dr Clive Ondari, director of health products policy and standards at WHO.

The agency has had a strong focus on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing a new financial intermediary fund to strengthen PPR capabilities in low- and middle-income countries.

It also announced earlier this month that member countries had started negotiations on a draft global agreement to protect nations and communities from future pandemic emergencies.

Article by
Emily Kimber

24th March 2023

From: Healthcare



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