Friends of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases

Posted September 22, 2021

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates and Guests,

UNDP is honoured to join the UN Task Force on NCDs and its valued friends at this annual event.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect countries differently and pose new challenges almost daily.

Almost one-fourth of the global population has an underlying condition which increases vulnerability to COVID-19. Most of these conditions are NCDs.

This “perfect storm” created by the convergence of COVID-19, NCDs and inequalities has overwhelmed even the strongest health systems, and amplified the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts, particularly in vulnerable communities.

COVID-19 vaccine inequity is adding fuel to the fire. Many of the poorer countries left behind in COVID-19 vaccination also face large NCD burdens.

The pandemic has also worsened mental health across the globe.

  • In fact, prevalence of depression, anxiety and insomnia – which are also symptoms of long COVID- have all soared above 30 percent during the first year of the pandemic.
  • Yet, just when critical mental health services are needed more than ever, 93 percent of countries worldwide have reported pandemic-related disruptions.
  • Essential services for NCDs such as cancer screening have also been upended.

Scaled-up action on NCDs and mental health is critical to the COVID-19 response and recovery, to achieving the SDGs, and leaving no one behind.

More investment is needed in NCDs and mental health.

A recent report US Council on Foreign Relations found that funding for NCDs declined to just 1.6 percent in 2020 as a share of foreign aid for health. That is 1.6 percent to address over 60 percent of the world’s total burden of disease..

UNDP and our sister UN agencies have been jointly supporting Member States through the work of the Task Force. This has grown more urgent in the context of COVID-19.

UNDP is proud to have partnered with WHO and UNICEF to establish the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for NCDs and mental health. This Fund can be an important opportunity to strengthen UN system support to countries. It can build on existing joint programmes under the Task Force which have already proven to be catalytic in spurring whole-of-government action.

UNDP works with partners such as WHO, the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and others in 65 countries on NCDs, tobacco control, and mental health. Through this work we are supporting countries to save lives and advance sustainable development.

UNDP’s new Strategic Plan 2022-2025 commits us to do still more, together with UNICEF, WHO and other partners on NCDs and mental health.

Enhancing our joint work on NCDs and mental health is critical to expanding people’s choices for a fairer, sustainable future, and to getting the SDGs back on track.

Thank you.