Lung disease and non-communicable diseases

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Lung disease and non-communicable diseases

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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are now significant factors in two in every three deaths globally. With the prevalence of tobacco usage still very high in many parts of the world, and rising rates of obesity, the burden of NCDs, is becoming ever greater.

Currently the NCDs are under-recognised and under-funded by many health systems worldwide. And as the burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries begins to shift from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases, this issue, in itself, is a major public health challenge. This comes on top of the complex challenges NCDs present for those fighting the impact of infectious diseases, including TB and lately, COVID-19.

The Union plays a key role in international efforts to raise awareness of the threat caused by the increase in NCDs, as a partner in the NCD Alliance.

Working with partners including the World Heart Federation, the International Diabetes Federation and the Union for International Cancer Control, the NCD Alliance was established 11 years ago to try to intensify efforts to combat not only these diseases themselves, but also impact of resulting comorbidities including TB.

The Union also actively participates in numerous global alliances to address lung health challenges facing low- and middle-income populations, including the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

The Union’s Adult and Child Lung Health Section has worked closely with the Lung Health Department to create The Union’s Strategic Plan for Lung Health 2020-2025. Particular relevance to the fight to reduce the burden of disease caused by NCDs are:

GOAL 3: To reduce the prevalence of tobacco smoking in high-burden low and middle-income countries and among people living in poverty everywhere


GOAL 4: To reduce the burden of chronic lung disease and respiratory infections among people living in poverty and people living in low- and middle-income countries.