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(Re) Naming and (Re) Framing NCDs

posted Jun 22, 2017, 8:10 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Jun 23, 2017, 12:58 AM ]
The term "Non-Communicable Disease" or NCD is used in a wide range of public health settings and refers to a medical condition or disease that is not caused by infectious agents. It is however, a group of conditions that the public health community has had mixed success in addressing.

In this month's edition of The Lancet Global Health, Luke Allen and Andrea Feigl have presented their work on the renaming of NCDs and the idea that a new name could have a positive effect on the ability to make more significant in-roads in reducing the prevalence of a wide range of diseases.

The idea is presented that the term "non-communicable disease" makes it hard for policy makers and the general public to fully comprehend the range of social influences on their own health and that of others.

Reframing Non-Communicable Diseases as Socially Transmitted Conditions (SCTs)

The authors highlight the core characteristics of all NCDs pointing out the levels of global burden, the preventable nature of NCDs and the various risk factors and determinants. 

They also highlight the increasing awareness of commercial influence and socioeconomic inequalities that are best addressed at political and strategic levels rather than focussing solely on aspects of personal control and behaviour and advocate shifting the focus of interventions further upstream (see image below for an example from Let's Get Healthy California)

"STCs are driven by urbanisation, industrialisation, and poverty, the availability of tobacco, alcohol, and processed foods, and physical inactivity. STCs also share a common set of solutions focused on addressing the complex and often unjust structure of society"
(Allen & Feigl, 2017)

To read the paper and to review the discussions that informed and underpinned it see the link below.

Read the paper here

Allen, L. N., & Feigl, A. B. (2017). Reframing non-communicable diseases as socially transmitted conditions. The Lancet Global Health, 5(7), e644-e646.