Joint Mission of the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases to India

08-12 December 2014

A joint mission of the United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) visited India from 8-12 December 2014 to enhance the support of UN agencies to the Government of India to scale up the National Multisectoral Response to NCDs.

At the conclusion of the visit, the mission called for rapidly moving from policy and planning to implementation of selected priority actions for NCD prevention and control.

The importance of multisectoral actions in the prevention and control of NCD’s was highlighted by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia, in a message to a regional consultation on the issue held at Bengaluru recently: “As most of the determinants that influence NCDs and their risks lie beyond the purview of the health sector, there is need for coordinated, multisectoral action to create an enabling environment to promote healthy behaviours.”

Speaking about the significance of the mission, WHO Representative to India, Dr Nata Menabde said, “The mission provided an opportunity to further strengthen the progress made by India in developing a national multisectoral response to NCDs.”

“It was a timely initiative since NCDs are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in India, leading to economic losses,” she added.

Most of the premature deaths from NCDs are linked to exposure to risk factors such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and the use of tobacco and alcohol. Dr Menabde emphasised that these can be prevented by promoting healthy public policies and strengthening the health system.

The UNIATF Mission to India comprised of WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank with participants from headquarters, regional and country offices. At the country level, the mission was coordinated by the WHO Country Office for India in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in India.

In September 2011, heads of state and government adopted the Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting on Prevention and Control of NCDs during the General Assembly of United Nations. The Declaration called upon WHO, as the lead UN specialized agency for health, and all other UN system agencies and international financial institutions to work together in a coordinated manner to support national efforts to prevent and control NCDs and mitigate their impacts.

Subsequently, UNIATF on prevention and control of NCDs was established to coordinate the activities of the relevant UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations to support realization of the commitments made in the above-mentioned Political Declaration, in particular, through implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs 2013-2020.