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24 June 2024
Asthma , COPD, Allergy

On 17 June, EFA submitted a response to a first stage consultation to update the WHO on its Global Action Plan (GAP) 2013–2020 for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Based on a set of six overarching objectives and nine voluntary targets, the GAP provided a pool of policy options to enable better monitoring and prevention of NCDs.

The consultation aimed to collect comments on key priority areas along each objective. It also took place in view of other related global targets such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4 for a reduction by one-third of premature mortality from NCDs.

EFA patients community calling for a tailored approach to NCDs, including allergy

Regarding the first objective (Raising the priority of the prevention and control of NCDs), EFA encouraged WHO to consider lung health and its underlying risks, often involving serious comorbidities. Prevalent chronic inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis/eczema, allergy and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also need to be explicitly addressed.

Regarding national leadership and governance, EFA called the WHO to establish a dedicated indicator to track lung health progress, which did not appear in 2013-2020 plan. Options could include the reduction of emergency visits for asthma and COPD exacerbations, the rate of children who outgrow asthma thanks to good care, the percentage of earlier diagnosis of COPD, by comparing stage diagnoses and lived years after first diagnosis, or the reduction of atopic eczema flare-ups and hospitalisations.

Action on commercial determinants of ill-health

As for risk factors, apart from social determinants, EFA urged for specific attention and action on commercial determinants of health which exacerbate and result in poor health among allergy and respiratory disease patients. These include better regulating tobacco and vaping commercialisation, everyday chemicals and fragrances, decreasing fossil fuels use and dependency, limiting harmful food transformation and many more. WHO estimates that about 2.7 million deaths per year are associated to these commercial determinants for health.

Patient-centred approach in health

Within the objectives to improve capacity of health systems to enable people-centred primary health care, EFA stressed the importance of offering multi-disciplinary care to unlock secondary and tertiary disease prevention. Such a holistic structure of the healthcare systems would be driven by a people-centred approach to health and care needs, coupled with investment in health literacy and education, patient empowerment and self-management. This is even more crucial in the case of complex diseases such as allergy, atopic eczema, asthma, and COPD.

Patient involvement in NCDs research

Research is a basic underpinning of effective policy and decision-making, so EFA stressed the importance of integrating the perspective of patients and carers into research priorities and agendas. In this respect, Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs), whether it is for diagnosis, treatment pathway or their own disease management, can play a key role informing research initiatives.

Data on non-communicable diseases

Finally, monitoring and evaluating the NCD trends can further improve, including through WHO support to countries. The establishment of robust multiyear country reporting would be extremely useful, as it would give a long-term view of NCD trajectories, including their impact on healthcare systems and their interaction with infectious diseases.

EFA looks forward to the next phases of the consultation, to address the more specific aspects of the upcoming WHO GAP.

You can find here the full EFA response here