TOGETHER, LET’S MAKE NCDs A PRIORITY FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT

Download the NCD Alliance publication on Women and NCDs here.

In 2011 an epidemic of non-communicable disease is spreading fast amongst women, surrounded by myths and misconceptions that hinder both prevention and treatment. Today NCDs are the leading cause of death in women globally, killing a staggering 18 million women each year. No longer diseases of the rich and elderly, NCDs are increasingly impacting on women in developing countries during the prime of their life.

The impact of these diseases in women is profound and goes beyond their own health. Women’s unique vulnerability to the risk factors for NCDs means that husbands are losing wives and children are losing mothers. Families across the world incur debt and destitution when mothers become disabled by NCDs and struggle to pay for treatment. Every case is a personal tragedy and collectively the high cost of NCDs in terms of healthcare and lost productivity threatens to undermine gains made in other areas of development and health.

The NCD Alliance invites the United Nations and international bodies, governments, business, civil society, health professionals, researchers, philanthropic organisations and the general public to join together in a coordinated movement to make NCDs a priority for women’s health and development. By pooling our collective expertise and strengths, we will inspire a new level of commitment that will benefit the millions of girls and women worldwide.

The NCD Alliance Campaign

To raise awareness of the international neglect of these silent killers, the NCD Alliance¹ convened a high-profile side event on women and NCDs at the United Nation’s 55th Commission on the Status of Women.²

The panel session, “Non-communicable diseases: A neglected dimension of women’s health and development” called for the global health and development community to focus their attention on the impact of NCDs on women, particularly in low and middle income countries. High profile panelists included Ann Keeling, CEO of the International Diabetes Federation and Chair of the NCD Alliance Steering Committee, Sania Nishtar, Founder and President of NGO think tank Heartfile, Patricia Lambert, Director of the International Legal Consortium at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Vice President of the International Network of Women Against Tobacco, and Vivien Tsu, Associate Director of the Reproductive Health global program at PATH.

During this event the panel discussed the unique vulnerability of girls and women to the socioeconomic determinants and risk factors of NCDs; the impact of NCDs on the health and socio-economic position throughout the lifecycle; and the importance of women’s empowerment for the prevention of the global NCD epidemic. The session also focused on the UN High-Level Summit on NCDs in September 2011, and the opportunity it presents for securing commitments for the biggest killer of women worldwide. Failure to act now on NCDs will undermine development gains made to date on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4 & 5), including progress on women’s empowerment.

This event also marked the official launch of the landmark publication “Non-communicable diseases: A priority for women’s health and development”. This publication is the first to focus on the specific needs and challenges of girls and women at risk of, or living with NCDs. It aims to draw attention to these diseases and key risks factors particularly tobacco control as a priority for women’s health and development, stimulate policy dialogue in the run-up to the UN Summit on NCDs in September.

The NCD Alliance invites the United Nations and international bodies, governments, business, civil society, health professionals, researchers, philanthropic organisations and the general public to join together in a coordinated movement to make NCDs a priority for women’s health and development. By pooling our collective expertise and strengths, we will inspire a new level of commitment that will benefit the millions of girls and women worldwide.

We call for:

º The prevention and control of NCDs to be integrated into existing health systems and initiatives, particularly within maternal health programmes;

º Protection for women and girls from the aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry, through accelerated and effective implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;

º Gender-responsive health systems that pay adequate attention to different gender needs and priorities;

º Inter-sectoral collaboration to identify and promote actions outside the health sector that can enhance health outcomes for women;

º Greater involvement of girls and women in identifying problems and solutions and implementing policies in the fight against NCDs;

º NCDs and common risk factors to be included in global development goals including the successor goals to the MDGs in 2015;

º Development agencies and philanthropic institutions to fund studies that will further refine our understanding of the gendered patterns of diagnosis, health seeking behavior and the impact of NCDs;

º Research institutions to incorporate attention to sex and gender in design, analysis and interpretation of studies on NCDs;

º Innovative partnerships to improve access to affordable, quality-assured, gender-sensitive essential medicines to treat NCDs in developing countries.

Download the full publication here.