Health systems response to NCDs

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death, disease and disability in the WHO European Region. The four major NCDs (cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes) account for nearly 86% of deaths and 77% of the disease burden. These diseases put increasing strain on the well-being of the population, health systems working to treat patients, and overall economic development. Loss of economic productivity as a result of NCDs is significant: it has been estimated that for every 10% increase in NCD mortality, economic growth is reduced by 0.5%.

Fortunately, NCDs are largely preventable, and early detection and good case management can contribute to good quality of life and reduced morbidity and mortality. This requires a comprehensive systemic approach combining large-scale population interventions (e.g. tobacco control) with effective individual health services (e.g. diabetes detection and management).

WHO/Europe supports Member States to strengthen their health system response to NCDs through an interdivisional work programme based on:

  • analytical work
  • technical assistance
  • policy dialogue
  • knowledge exchange.