Strategic Role

The Taskforce on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) brings together 19 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 (LMIC) by mobilizing leadership, expanding technical expertise and disseminating evidence to inform policymaking, planning and implementation.

Goals

The goals of the Taskforce on Women and NCDs are two-fold:

  • GOAL ONE: Mobilize national and global policymakers, public health leaders and civil society to advocate for health policies and financing that drive a gender-responsive and resource-specific response to NCDs in girls and women. 
  • GOAL TWO: Develop and disseminate information and evidence-based guidance for public health leaders, national health planners and healthcare professionals to integrate NCD prevention, detection and treatment into existing programs and services for girls and women in LMIC.

Why now?

Emergent health challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic are transforming the landscape of women's health needs in most LMIC. Demographic and lifestyle changes as well as globalization and urbanization are leading to a rapid increase in NCDs – including the most common NCDs, such as 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 across the globe. Approximately half of all female deaths in LMICs are attributable to NCDs. NCDs impact girls and 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 chronic diseases. The UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) calls for a one third reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2030 and the promotion of mental health and well-being for all women, children and adolescents.

To best meet girls’ and 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 LMICs. Since 2011, the Taskforce on Women and NCDs has been responding to the growing burden of NCDs on girls and women through collective advocacy, collaborative planning, and joint production of relevant documents and tools.

Efforts have included advocacy activities and technical briefs highlighting the need for a strengthened, gender-transformative global response to NCDs. The Taskforce has organized and supported a range of events and panels to raise awareness and increase the capacity of the global health community to tackle the growing burden of NCDs on girls and women. These activities include numerous engagements during the UN General Assembly and UN Commission on Status of Women in New York, the International AIDS Society (IAS) meeting, Women Deliver Conferences, the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, and the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research.

The Taskforce has published key tools and resources on topics such as applying an integrated, life-course approach to women’s health; the links between women’s health, HIV and NCDs; and the burden and implications of specific NCDs – cancer and cardiovascular disease – as faced by women.

The Taskforce will continue to develop and release technical tools encouraging an improved and expanded response to NCD prevention and control in women and girls. Its members 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 the evolving health needs of women and girls, regardless of where they live.