About NCDs

Four types of NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases – account for almost two-thirds of all deaths globally, with 80 per cent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

These diseases can be preventable

By eliminating shared risk factors, almost 80 per cent of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and more than one-third of all cancers could be prevented. In addition, improved disease management can reduce morbidity, disability and death, and contribute to better health outcomes. Proven, cost-effective strategies do exist to prevent and control this growing burden.

At the global level

Inspired by our Strategy 2020, the IFRC developed a Global Framework on NCDs to guide the work of National Societies. The framework focuses on five inter-related interventions:

  • Prevention through integrated and holistic community-based programmes rather than vertical NCD interventions
  • Innovation and research through the identification of innovative approaches to be scaled up, the use of new technologies and continued operational research
  • Monitoring and evaluation through the development of simple planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting tools for volunteers, based on the World Health Organization’s Global Monitoring Framework
  • Partnership through the promotion of alliances and ownership at the global, regional and national levels, with organizations, academics, donors, pharmaceutical manufacturers and ministries
  • Advocacy through raising the priority of NCD prevention and control at national and global levels.

At the national and community levels

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have a long history of disease prevention and health promotion programmes. Their role complements that of their government and they are thus in a unique position to pioneer the implementation of NCD integrated prevention programmes and the promotion of highly cost-effective programmes, such as encouraging physical activities, alcohol and tobacco control and a healthy diet.

The country-level approach recommended by the Red Cross Red Crescent is built around the following interventions:

  • Focusing on prevention, especially for adolescents
  • Integrating NCD prevention into other community-based programmes, based on the specific country and community burden
  • Promoting health by scaling up evidence-based programming to tackle NCD issues at the community level
  • Identifying and testing various innovative approaches in addressing NCDs (e.g. through new technologies, virtual working groups, social media and youth networks)
  • Building the capacity of volunteers and staff to tackle NCD-related burdens during emergencies
  • Ensuring quality through implementing monitoring and evaluation systems, and
  • Advocating at the national level to raise priority of NCDs and mobilizing government and partners.

Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers, going from door to door in their communities, play an essential role in contributing to this global NCD effort. In their auxiliary role to governments, National Societies work together with national authorities and other actors to provide high-quality NCD programmes and services.

The Red Cross Red Crescent’s advocacy work remains vital to promote better and more accessible screening programmes, combined with wider public awareness initiatives, to reduce the number of NCD-related deaths. The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, for example, developed a long-term strategy to address NCDs in their country. The National Society works in schools through the Junior Red Cross and organizes events for World Diabetes Day and national campaigns against drugs, alcohol and tobacco use. Volunteers take part in surveillance activities, visit households, invite high-risk individuals to attend a screening programme at the nearest government health centre to test for health risk, and conduct community-awareness interventions, such as health talks and the possibility of establishing a gym to encourage beneficiaries to be more physically active.