Discussion Paper: Addressing the Social Determinants of Noncommunicable Diseases

17 Oct 2013

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) - mainly cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease - are not just one of the world’s most pressing health concerns but also a significant development challenge. They impede social and economic development and are driven by underlying social, economic, political, environmental and cultural factors, broadly known as ‘social determinants’.


Working alongside specialist health partners, actors outside the health sector are uniquely well positioned to address the social determinants of NCDs.


This paper offers two unique contributions to existing global and regional frameworks on multisectoral action on NCDs and their social determinants. The first is a typology of multisectoral action that highlights three general categories of possible action outside the health sector: expanding delivery platforms; NCD-specific actions on social determinants; and NCD-sensitive actions on social determinants.


This paper’s second contribution is a framework that outlines more specific areas and opportunities for actors outside the health sector to take action on the social determinants of NCDs. The framework has two parts. The first describes opportunities for NCD-specific and NCD-sensitive actions across the policy and programme lifecycle. The second part describes opportunities to create an enabling environment that promotes multisectoral action. Actors outside the health sector are uniquely positioned to help build political will, enabling legal frameworks, enforcement mechanisms and effective governance structures that are multisectoral and participatory – all anchored in a human rights-based approach.

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