The Case for Investing in the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases Opening remarks by

Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Ethiopia

Mr Cleophas Torori

5th September 2019


Your Excellency Dr. Amir Aden Aman, Minister of Health

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is no getting around the fact that non-communicable diseases are the world’s biggest killer, responsible for the death of 40 million people each year.

In Ethiopia, NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, are said to account for over 45 percent of deaths.

A mother in her prime that dies from cervical cancer, or a father in his prime that dies from a heart attack, often each leaving behind a young family that is not only grieving but one a family that is often pushed into poverty. The next generation will not be able to finish their education and thus starts a vicious cycle of poverty.


That is why we can no longer afford to treat health as the exclusive domain of Dr. Amir and the ministry of health while we all sit back offering little or no support.

As far back as 2011, Heads of State and Government from across the world adopted the Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs. They recognized that the “global burden and threat of NCDs constitutes one of the major development challenges of the 21st century”.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also recognizes the economic, social and environmental risk factors driving NDCs as an impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Given the interlinkages between NCDs and other goals and targets, achieving SDG target 3.4 “to reduce premature mortality from NCDs” will require progress across many of the SDGs such as ending poverty and hunger (SDGs 1&2), increasing access to clean energy (SDG7) and building clean and sustainable cities while in turn delivering shared gains on these and other goals.[1]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional approach is needed to reduce the impact of NCDs. Exposure to NCD risk factors is often rooted in public policies that span beyond the health sector and include sectors such as finance, agriculture, education, and urban planning. In many ways, this therefore also becomes a governance issue.

One of the recommendations of the 2017 Joint Programming Mission of the UN NCD Task Force was that an NCD investment case be conducted. During 2018 and 2019 UNDP and WHO worked with the Government to undertake this analysis and today we will be presented with the results.

We will hear today that Ethiopia is not spared the far-reaching development harms of NCDs. Every year we lose many Ethiopian citizens to NCDs, and each year, NCDs cost Ethiopia at least 31 billion Birr – about 1 billion USD – which is equivalent to 1.8 percent of the country’s GDP.

We will also understand today how putting in measures to prevent and control NCDs makes economic sense.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take a moment to comment Dr. Amir and the Government for placing  NCDs as a priority for Ethiopia. We have started to see it every month as thousands converge on the car-free streets to walk and play with their families.

Let me note that addressing the NCD is also a priority for the UN through our harmonised development assistance to Ethiopia. This study is timely given that we are currently developing our next Co-operation Framework providing an opportunity to scale up our support, working hand in hand with the Goverment and other  development partners, as well as  the private sector and CSOs. The UN would be able to support government to access global best practices in terms of innovations and developing laws and getting them enforced.

Going forward we will of course need to make a stronger investment case in to ensure that we have sustainable financing for NCDs within the context of universal health coverage, advanced through a multisectoral national NCD strategy and coordination mechanism.

Together we can ensure this, and coming generations, live in a healthier environment. Together we can beat NCDs.

Thank you for your attention.







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