The year 2020 started with novel coronavirus outbreak spilling over from 2019 and spreading around the globe like wild fire. This coronavirus, dubbed SARS-CoV-2 and causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has undermined even the most advanced and sophisticated health care systems, transformed social norms and destabilised economies.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing so much suffering and death, it has equally brought to the limelight, the fact that although NCDs are the most common cause of death worldwide, very little funding has been allocated to them, and many health care systems, especially in the low- and middle-income countries, are not designed to adequately handle them. In fact, NCD services have borne the brunt of disruptions in health delivery resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people living with chronic NCDs (PLWNCDs) have not been able to get routine care and/or medicine refills either because of difficulties to access health facilities, and/or shortages in stock as a result of COVID-19-related restrictions. And, PLWNCDs are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 and dying, compared to the general population.
Consequently, there has been growing calls for more action on NCDs, beyond commitments and declaration, and to include NCD care as an integral package in health care delivery, as health systems are being rebuilt in the wake of the COVID-19 onslaught. Hence the hashtags; #ActOnNCDs #BuildBackBetter.
However, only posterity will tell whether this is the light at the end of the tunnel or just another episode of the political melodrama.