NEW YORK–True or false on NCDs?
- NCDs mainly affect the rich
- NCDs are mainly diseases of the elderly
- All NCDs are preventable
- No cost effective solutions exist for NCDs
- You can’t change human behavior when it comes to NCDs
Ann Keeling of the NCD Alliance and CEO of the International Diabetes Federation posed these questions during a session at The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s annual conference.
Her comments were made in one of the most intriguing sessions, on the role of the private sector in addressing NCDs and lessons learned from the business community’s response to HIV.
Another panelist, Clifford Panter of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, put the crisis posed by NCDs in stark terms: “In the developing world, workers are increasingly being forced to choose between work and health.”
Sonak Pastakia, a pharmacist who works in Kenya, echoed the challenges that workers face when they have little access to health care or long wait times that make it impossible for them to miss work to seek treatment.
On the five myths:
- While NCDs are on the rise worldwide they disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized. Keeling described diabetes as “a horrific intergenerational tax on the poor,” given the human and economic cost when multiple family members suffer from the disease
- Half of the people worldwide who are affected by NCDs are working age, not elderly
- Not all NCDs are preventable but about 80% of them can be prevented, delayed or averted
- Cost-effective technologies do exist to fight NCDs and while new ones are being rolled out there’s still a need for investment in treatment and prevention
- Behavior and lifestyle choices can be changed to prevent and manage NCDs.
What other myths on NCDs need to be addressed?