For too long, non-communicable diseases - cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes - have been a hidden epidemic. As described by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, they represent a "public health emergency in slow motion". Progress to date on NCDs has been vastly inadequate and has resulted in the global catastrophe we find ourselves in today. To address this shortcoming, governments recently held a landmark United Nations Summit in September 2011 in New York where world leaders (including over 30 Heads of State in attendance) declared NCDs a global priority and committed to taking actions to address the crisis. A recent study by the World Economic Forum and Harvard University estimates that NCDs will cost the world economy $47 trillion over the next 20 years, representing 75 percent of global GDP and surpassing the cost of the global financial crisis. And yet, the World Health Organization estimates that a basic package of cost effective strategies to prevent and treat NCDs would cost $11.4 billion a year in low- and middle- income countries. Because of the size of the epidemic, the diverse causes, and the universal impact, NCDs are everyone's problem. The epidemic is too big for governments to solve alone. Tackling the global NCD crisis head on requires a concerted and coordinated multi-sectoral response, committed to by world decision makers and business leaders, and stimulated and monitored by a strong civil society movement. Currently, donor countries are operating a policy ban on funding NCDs, thereby starving low-income governments of the financial and technical assistance needed to turn around the NCD epidemic. This policy has to change, with overseas development assistance becoming aligned to the priorities of recipient countries. NCDs stand as a major barrier to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with only four years remaining to the MDG end date, urgent action is required to integrate NCDs into global health and development approaches and priorities. Yet, the international community displays no sense of urgency or outrage about NCDs, the silent killer that is threatening development and economic progress. The time to act is now. Learn about the facts here, our campaigns to put NCDs on the global agenda here, see the latest media coverage here, and find out how to get involved here.
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