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Uninterrupted Health Services for NCDs during the COVID-19 Crisis

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Uninterrupted Health Services for NCDs during the COVID-19 Crisis

Accelerating SDG Implementation
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Web Based
25 May 2021
Duration of event:
1 Days
Programme Area:
Special event
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The world is facing the global COVID-19 pandemic which has led to over 3.15 million deaths. While an even larger number of nearly 41 million people die prematurely every year due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

National governments, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations, and multilateral development banks, are at the forefront of this challenge. As per WHO research, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the delivery of NCD care services in over 75% of countries around the world.

Over 40% of countries reported lockdowns hindering access to health facilities as one of the main causes of disruption. COVID-19 related disruption includes unavailability of inpatient services and hospital beds, closure of outpatient NCD services, insufficient Personal Protective Equipment, and insufficient health care providers. Lastly, deployment of NCD-related staff to provide COVID-19 relief was reported by 39% of countries.

The Defeat-NCD Partnership and the Economist Intelligence Unit deeper research and analysis reveal that underlying NCD mortalities have a causal link to COVID-19 case fatality rates, upwards of 10 million COVID-19 related mortalities. 

NCDs require ongoing management for optimal outcomes, which is challenging in emergency settings. In addition, conflicts can increase the risk of acute NCD exacerbations and decrease the ability of health systems to respond. Finally, complex emergencies may compromise the prevention and control of these diseases over a prolonged period; result in a lack of access to timely treatment and poor outcomes on patients, and increase costs of managing complications for countries and agencies.


The Defeat-NCD Partnership at The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is organising a call for action for countries to ensure uninterrupted health services for patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) during COVID-19 and other humanitarian crises.

This high-level panel discussion will respond to our call-to-action by reflecting on practical solutions that break the link between NCD and COVID-19 mortality and finding creative ways to leverage COVID-19 response efforts to support strengthened health systems.

Governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, academia, philanthropies, legal, health, policy, humanitarian, development, and the private sector.

The high-level panel discussion will be moderated by Juliette Foster. Panellists and speakers include:

  • David Nabarro, Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at the Imperial College London, Strategic Director of 4SD, and Special Envoy of WHO Director-General on COVID-19
  • Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and Chair of the WHO’s Executive Board
  • Bandar M. H. Hajjar, President, Islamic Development Bank
  • Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan, President of the 74th World Health Assembly
  • Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health, Government of Rwanda
  • Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, Government of The Gambia
  • Mohammed Hamad J.T. Al-Thani, Director of Public Health Department, Ministry of Public Health, Government of Qatar
  • Menassie Taddese, President, Emerging Markets, Viatris
  • Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research
  • Mukul Bhola, Chief Executive Officer, The Defeat-NCD Partnership, United Nations Institute for Training and Research
  • Senior representatives from the WHO and multilateral development banks
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