The number of deaths caused by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is alarming.

Cancer, diabetes heart and lungs disease are becoming daily reports and NCDs have become by far the leading cause of death in the world, representing 63% of all annual deaths.

These diseases kill 40 million annually, more than any other cause of death, of which 15 million occur prematurely among people aged 30-70 years, and 7 million in low- and low-middle income countries.

They must do something to save more lives.

On Thursday, however, they are pledged to take bold actions to reduce suffering as a result of NCDs.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said governments endorsed the Montevideo Roadmap 2018-2030 on NCDs as a Sustainable Development Priority at the opening of a three-day global conference in the Uruguayan capital.

“It is shocking to see the growing toll diseases like cancer and diabetes are taking on the people who can least afford healthcare,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said.

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The pledge followed world leaders’ agreement to reduce, by one-third, “premature” NCDs deaths by 2030, as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"Governments must act on pledges to prevent these diseases in the first place, and to ensure that people can obtain services to treat them.

"Failure to do this imposes massive costs on individuals and communities. It totally contradicts global commitments to sustainable development," Ghebreyesus added.

The Montevideo Roadmap highlights the need for coordinated and coherent action from all sectors and the whole of society, as many of the main drivers of ill health lie beyond the control of health ministries, systems and professionals.

According to the WHO chief, non-State actors, including civil society and industry, have important roles to play.

In addition to improved disease detection and treatment, the Roadmap also points out that the bulk of NCD deaths could have been prevented by action, such as against tobacco, unhealthy diets and harmful use of alcohol.


Among challenges identified in the Roadmap are uneven and insufficient progress to reduce premature deaths from NCDs and influence of the private sector on governments to prioritize trade over public health goals.

The other is lack of high-level political leadership to ensure that health promotion and NCD prevention and control are part of all areas of government policy.