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The World Health Assembly adopts more best buys to fight noncommunicable diseases

The World Health Organization has expanded the list of “Best Buys for NCD”. The updated list was approved at the 76th World Health Assembly, a move that will help governments select life-saving interventions and policies for the world’s leading killers, noncommunicable diseases. This gives countries of all income levels support in improving the health of their citizens.

Interventions offered include taxes and advertising bans on tobacco and alcohol, reformulating policies for healthier foods and beverages, and promoting and supporting best breastfeeding practices.

The new list also includes secondary prevention of rheumatic fever, acute and long-term treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and various cancer control measures related to cervical, breast, colon, liver and childhood cancer, and comprehensive treatment of cancer for people, who live with HIV.

The updated Best Buys encompass a range of policy options and cost-effective interventions to help governments prioritize investments according to their specific country context. Investing in evidence-based policies is an investment in a healthy future.

Bente Mikkelsen. Director, Division of Noncommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization

The latest revision has been updated to reflect WHO recommendations and guidance, as well as the latest scientific knowledge on the impact. The report is part of the Global Action Plan on NCDs 2023-2030 and is an update from 2017. It forms the core of the implementation roadmap on NCDs. Each revision is based on new WHO normative and standard-setting products, new evidence and data to expand and update the interventions.

The updated list further confirms that preventing and controlling NCDs is a remarkable business that can save millions of lives and extend millions of healthy years of life.

These interventions can help help countries meet the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by a third through prevention and treatment, and promoting mental health and well-being worldwide by 2030.

They also provide an opportunity to accelerate national NCD prevention and control efforts to reduce suffering and prevent deaths, and pave the way for political engagement at the United Nations General Assembly’s Fourth High-Level Session on Prevention and Control of NCDs in the United Nations year 2025.

The World Health Assembly resolution requires that the intervention list be continually updated as data become available.

Note to the editor:

List of expanded NCD Best Buys

tobacco

Raise excise taxes and tobacco product prices. Implement large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging, accompanied by plain/standardized packaging. Enact and enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship Transport Implement effective mass media campaigns that educate the public about the harms of smoking/tobacco use and second-hand smoke and encourage behavior change Tobacco cessation for all tobacco users

alcohol

Increase in excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. Establish and enforce bans or overall restrictions on exposure to alcohol advertising (across multiple media). Implementing and enforcing restrictions on the physical availability of retail alcohol (through reduced sales hours).

Unhealthy Diet

Reformulation guidelines for healthier food and beverage products (e.g. elimination of trans fats and/or reduction of saturated fats, free sugars and/or sodium). Front-of-pack labeling as part of comprehensive nutritional labeling guidelines to help consumers understand and choose foods for a healthy diet. Public food procurement and service guidelines for healthy eating (e.g., to reduce intake of free sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats and increase consumption of legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables). Communication on behavior change and mass media campaign for healthy eating diets (e.g. to reduce intake of energy, free sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats and increase consumption of legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables). Guidelines for protecting children from the harmful effects of food marketing on their diet. Protecting, promoting and supporting best breastfeeding practices

physical inactivity

Implement sustained, population-wide communication campaigns on physical activity best practices with links to community-based programs and environmental improvements to enable and support behavior change

cardiovascular diseases

Secondary prevention of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease by setting up a patient registry that regularly receives prophylactic penicillin

Chronic respiratory diseases

Acute management of asthma exacerbations with inhaled bronchodilators and oral steroids. Acute treatment of COPD exacerbations with inhaled bronchodilators and oral steroids. Long-term treatment of COPD with inhaled bronchodilators

Cancer

Human papillomavirus vaccination (1-2 doses) in 9-14 year old girls Cervical cancer: HPV DNA screening beginning at age 30 with regular screening every 5 to 10 years (using a screen-and-treat approach or screening, Triage-and-treat approach) Cervical cancer: early diagnosis programs combined with timely diagnostic work-up and comprehensive cancer treatment in children: early detection programs combined with timely diagnostic evaluation and comprehensive cancer treatment, with a focus on 6 index cancers of the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood CancerEarly detection and comprehensive treatment of cancer for people living with HIV

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