Strategic Role

The Taskforce on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) brings together fourteen global health organizations from the women’s health and NCD communities to respond to the unique and growing burden of non-communicable diseases on women in low- and middle-income countries by mobilizing leadership, expanding technical expertise and disseminating evidence to inform policymaking, planning and services.

Goals

The goals of the Task Force on NCDs and Women’s Health are two-fold:

  • GOAL ONE: To develop and disseminate the information and evidence-based guidance that will allow public health leaders, national health planners and clinicians to integrate NCD prevention, detection and treatment into existing programs and services for women in low- and middle-income countries.
  • GOAL TWO: To mobilize national policymakers, public health leaders and civil society to advocate for national health policies and financing that drive a gender-specific and resource-specific response to NCDs in women.

Why now?

Emergent health challenges are transforming the landscape of women's health needs in most low- and middle-income countries. Demographic and lifestyle changes as well as globalization and urbanization are leading to a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease. The NCD epidemic poses a serious burden on women's health, threatening the most vulnerable girls, women and communities that have been the focus of hard-fought health and development successes over the past decades. Approximately half of all female deaths in low- and middle- income countries are attributable to NCDs. NCDs impact women who are left exposed through persistent social, gender and economic inequalities and overall pervasive inequities in access to health information, appropriate access to care and life-saving technologies. 

The landmark UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in September 2011 marked the beginning of increased global awareness and political commitment to take action on these diseases. The UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s health highlights NCDs as part of an integrated approach to women’s health.

In order to best meet women’s evolving health needs, the NCD and women’s health communities must come together, establish a common language, and share best practices and lessons learned, as part of an expanded effort to ensure women’s health in developing countries. The Task Force on NCDs and Women’s Health has been responding to the growing burden of NCDs on women by creating a platform for collaboration and producing relevant documents and tools since 2011.

Efforts in pursuit of these goals, efforts in pursuit of these goals have included advocacy activities and technical briefs that highlight the need for a strengthened gender-specific global response to NCDs. The Taskforce has organized and supported a range events and panels to raise awareness and increase the capacity of the global health community to tackle the growing burden of NCDs on women. These activities include numerous engagements during the UN General Assembly in New York, the International AIDS Society (IAS) meeting in 2012, Women Deliver Conferences in 2013 and 2016 and the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference in 2015. The Taskforce also continues to support the NCD+ campaign, which encourages people across ages, nations, and professional training to use social networking creatively to build awareness and inspire action around NCDs globally.

The Taskforce has published “Recommendations towards an integrated, life-course approach to women’s health in the post-2015 agenda,” in the Bulletin of the WHO and has produced numerous policy briefs, including: “Women, HIV and Non-Communicable Diseases: Making the Links and Moving to Action”; “Women and Cardiovascular Disease”; and “Women and Cancer Issue Brief: A focus on breast, cervical and lung cancer”.

The Taskforce will continue to release additional technical tools to encourage an improved and expanded response to the growing burden of these diseases. The Taskforce will support this work with ongoing global and country-level advocacy and information dissemination efforts. The Taskforce on Women and NCDs is actively working to meet women’s evolving health needs regardless of where they live.