The Swedish NCD Alliance
The Swedish NCD Alliance was formed in connection with the UN high-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in mid-September 2011. The alliance consists today of 27 Swedish non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Non-communicable diseases account for the majority of premature deaths worldwide: 35 million out of 53 million deaths in 2010. It is calculated that, if nothing is done, by 2030 the number will have increased to 55 million premature deaths resulting from NCDs. In Sweden, non-communicable diseases account for 90 per cent of all deaths.
Four categories of disease – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease – are the biggest causes of death. These have four major common risk factors: tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy eating habits and inadequate physical activity. When you take into consideration lost healthy years of life in addition to mortality, mental illness also belongs to these major disease categories, on the same scale as cancer.
Active work on non-communicable diseases is underway within both WHO and the UN, including global action plans and work related to the new millennium goals beyond 2015.
The purpose and aims of the Swedish NCD Alliance
The alliance’s overall aim is to increase the number of years of healthy life. By sharing information, cooperating and acting together we can do much more to reduce the incidence of NCDs. The alliance seeks to help increase and broaden knowledge about the problems and opportunities surrounding NCDs and their associated risk factors and to foster awareness of the importance of putting appropriate measures into place. This is done through improved dissemination of information and vigorous advocacy.
The alliance works mainly with the following issues:
- How can we avoid premature deaths and reduce the toll of non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic lung disease, mental illness and neurological diseases, in Sweden as well as in other countries?
- How can we achieve coordinated action against the risk factors and their underlying causes?
- How can the work of the health sector be supported and strengthened to prevent and treat NCDs?
The overall emphasis is on reducing health inequalities and the incidence of NCDs by simultaneously working to:
- promote measures at population level to prevent ill health from non-communicable diseases, focusing especially on early life
- promote measures to help groups and individuals who are at high risk of poor health from non-communicable diseases
- maximize people’s access to effective health care, treatment and prevention
NGOs that support the Alliance’s aims and direction as stated above may become members of the Alliance. By NGO is meant a self-governing entity that is in principle voluntary, independent of government, municipalities and the markets, and which operates without a profit motive.
The business sector and its organizations, i.e. commercial companies and organizations that have been created by, represent or are closely connected with commercial interests, cannot be members of the Alliance. This applies particularly to the tobacco, alcohol and food industries because of the obvious conflict of interest that exists for them in relation to the Alliance’s goals.
In order to further the Alliance’s aims, members share information and ideas. Members may also participate in common shared activities in whatever way each participating organization decides from case to case.
For the time being the Alliance is run through the participating organizations’ own efforts, in accordance with their own interests, abilities and resources.
For the Alliance to function in the long term there needs to be a small coordinating group that plans and prepares Alliance meetings and, when necessary, coordinates activities such as writing and signing opinion pieces, articles, submissions, etc.
Within the Alliance working groups can be formed by representatives from those Alliance organizations that wish to participate. Working groups can follow the development in a particular area, disseminate information to the entire Alliance, make suggestions for possible activities, and so on. Examples of potential areas for working groups are:
- WHO’s global action plans
- The NCD issue and MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)
- National and international conflicts of interest
- Arranging public meetings, training or seminars
Meetings of the entire Alliance are held about four times a year, as needed.
Costs that may arise are shared between the organizations that are able and willing to contribute. Financial contribution is not a prerequisite for participating in activities that the Alliance organizes.