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Norway launches strategy to combat Non-communicable Diseases

As the first country in the world, Norway launches a strategy to combat Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in low-income countries as part of Norway's development aid. The government's new strategy focuses on important target areas and effective measures. Now the strategy must be operationalised and put into action.

A big step forward

The strategy is seen as a big step forward for Norwegian development work related to health and, if it is implemented well, it can help reduce the negative health effects of non-communicable diseases in those parts of the world where it is most needed.

- FORUT can celebrate the impact of several of our contributions to the strategy. Among other things, together with several other actors, we have pointed to a critical lack of focus on mental health in Norwegian development aid. We have also argued for many years for implementation of effective alcohol control measures worldwide. We are therefore happy to see that the strategy safeguards a commitment to both mental health and harmful alcohol use, says FORUT's International Programme Director, Ståle Stavrum.

FORUT in particular welcomes the measures the government will take to achieve the strategy's goal of reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs in low-income countries by a third by 2030. Universal measures at the population level are effective, in particular to prevent negative health effects of goods such as tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods. As the strategy itself points out: "Much can be achieved through regulation, taxation and multisectoral measures".

The government leans heavily on multinational actors such as WHO in both problem definition and selected measures. In addition, it is emphasised that positive results are best achieved in an interaction between multinational, national and local players.

The strategy states clearly that the involvement of commercial players, for example in the area of ​​health-damaging products, in the promotion of public health must be done with caution. The reason is that conflicts of interest easily arise if such actors are to be involved in this field and that it is difficult to commit these actors to public health policy objectives and measures.