Universal Health Coverage and Non-Communicable Diseases: A Mutually Reinforcing Agenda


Management Sciences for Health serves on the steering group of The NCD Alliance, which has issued this polcy brief on universal health coverage and non-communicable diseases. 

Accelerating progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) is essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of all people. Approximately 100 million people are pushed into poverty every year as a result of out-of-pocket payments for health care, a large proportion of which are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Yet, UHC remains a distant reality for many low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), where the NCD burden is impacting disproportionately. Out-of-pocket payments for NCD treatment and care trap poor households in cycles of catastrophic expenditure, impoverishment, and illness, particularly in countries lacking social protection and health insurance. Coverage and access (in terms of availability and physical access) to NCD services, including early diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care, are severely inadequate.

The NCD Alliance Position

Universal health coverage and access is a critical enabler to achieving good health outcomes for all, and a necessary part of global and national health and development frameworks. However, UHC itself is not sufficient to respond to the global NCD epidemic. As the discussions on UHC move forward, the NCD Alliance will continue to work to further articulate how and what UHC and access means for NCDs.

Together with other members civil society organisations, and co-endorsed by the WHO and the World Bank, the NCD Alliance has co-authored an information sheet on UHC, entitled "The Global Push for Universal Health Coverage" ,published in July 2014.

NCD Alliance Policy Brief “Universal Health Coverage and Non-Communicable Diseases: A Mutually Reinforcing Agenda”

Attainment of UHC will be dependent on prioritizing NCD prevention and control in UHC design and implementation. When achieved, UHC can provide a powerful vehicle to accelerate progress in NCD outcomes, inequalities, and socio-economic impact.

Equally, lessons learnt from the NCD response can help support pathways to UHC. These include a focus on health promotion and prevention; multisectoral approaches, addressing the social determinants of health, and domestic innovative financing mechanisms (including taxation on unhealthy products).

In order for the post 2015 development agenda to be truly transformative for health, NCDs must be recognized as a priority and UHC must be articulated as a means to achieve improved health outcomes.

The NCD Alliance policy brief analyses the synergies and barriers for NCDs and UHC, as well as providing policy measures to ensure that UHC directly contributes to improving NCD prevention and control.