Indian Journal of Medical Specialities

: 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 48--49

Tackling noncommunicable diseases effectively to attain universal health coverage

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,  
1 Department of Community Medicine, Member of The Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Tackling noncommunicable diseases effectively to attain universal health coverage.Indian J Med Spec 2019;10:48-49

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Tackling noncommunicable diseases effectively to attain universal health coverage. Indian J Med Spec [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 15 ];10:48-49
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

As a part of the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, all Member States of the United Nations have decided to accomplish universal health coverage (UHC) by the year 2030.[1] The target to meet UHC means that the health sector should be in a position to ensure the provision of quality-assured essential health-care services and safeguard the general population from financial risks due to out-of-pocket expenditure on health services.[1],[2] The current global estimates suggest that each year 250 million people have to face financial hardships due to the costs incurred for health services.[1]

In the global mission to improve the health standards for all, apart from the various existing gaps, there is a great need to develop strategies and policies and implement measures for the containment of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including the potential risk factors worldwide.[3] The prevention and control of NCDs have been viewed as a major factor for attaining UHC, owing to their huge caseloads, global distribution, chronic nature, resulting complications, impaired quality of life, and deaths of millions of people across the globe.[1],[2],[3]

Infact, NCDs account for the death of >40 million people on an annual basis, which equates to 7 out of 10 deaths happening globally due to any reason.[3] This is an alarming figure, and the associated concerns enhance further as most of these deaths are premature and often happening in low- and middle-income nations, highlighting the weakness prevailing in the health sector and the need to take urgent steps to bridge the existing gaps.[2],[3],[4] These steps should be planned and implemented in a collaborative manner and should include measures, which are not limited to the government sector alone (viz., formulation of policies), but simultaneously look for the opportunity to involve civil organizations, academia, business, urban planning, and other concerned stakeholders.[3],[4],[5]

However, the government sector has to take the initiative, while private sector has to prioritize the issue of health and not making profits by production or marketing of harmful products (such as tobacco, alcohol, sugary drinks, or foods with trans-fat or high levels of sodium).[4],[5] Nevertheless, considering the huge burden, we have to aim to reduce the NCD-associated risk factors.[1] In fact, the World Health Organization has released a set of effective and affordable measures to facilitate prevention, early detection, and treatment of NCDs.[4] These measures comprise prioritizing essential medicines, educating NCDs patients, imposing higher taxes on harmful products, and implementing legislative measures to prevent NCDs, regardless of their financial status.[4],[5]

Furthermore, the amount of money either saved due to the prevention of health-care costs or gained from imposing taxes can be again pooled in the mission to attain UHC.[4] On an encouraging note, some amount of progress has been achieved as reflected by a reduction in the incidence of NCDs, but then, a lot still needs to be done to prevent sufferings and deaths among millions of people worldwide.[4],[5]

To conclude, the eventual attainment of UHC will be determined by the fact that how health services are financed, handled, and provided based on the needs of the local people. However, any progress made in the field of prevention and control of NCDs will play a crucial role in meeting the target of UHC.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1World Health Organization. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – Fact Sheet. World Health Organization; 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 08].
2Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Moving towards the universal health coverage: A strategy to expedite health equity. J Med Soc 2016;30:70-1.
3World Health Organization. Non-communicable Diseases – Fact Sheet. World Health Organization; 2018. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Nov 08].
4Vázquez TR, Ghebreyesus TA. Beating NCDs can help deliver universal health coverage. Lancet 2017;390:1473-4.
5Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Universal health coverage: Necessity, monitoring, and the vision ahead. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:1107-8.