The Union helps establish new NCD alliance in Southeast Asia

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated eight million lives are lost due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) each year in the Southeast Asia region. That accounts for 55 per cent of all deaths in the region.

To prevent and control NCDs, The Union has helped bring together leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are located in Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries into the ASEAN NCD Alliance. The Union Asia Pacific, based in Singapore, is a founding member of this new policy research and advocacy group, along with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in Singapore, Diabetes Association of Thailand, Indonesian Heart Foundation, National Cancer Society Malaysia (NSCM) and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) in Thailand. Together, these organisations offer expertise and represent constituencies affected by the key NCDs and tobacco/smoking. 

According to Matthew Coghlan, Director of The Union Asia Pacific and the first Chair of the ASEAN NCD Alliance, “The burden of NCDs has increased rapidly in the region, so we are joining forces to encourage our political leaders to promote healthy lifestyles.” 

“By working as an alliance, we can pull together the available resources and provide a common voice,” says Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, President and Medical Director of NCSM.

The ASEAN NCD Alliance will start by researching the new ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda with the goal of contributing to the development of its policy framework.  Promoting healthy lifestyles and thereby reducing NCDS by 2020 is a priority for the Agenda. 

“The launch of the ASEAN NCD Alliance at this moment is timely,” says Coghlan, “because it can tie in closely with the release of the new ASEAN Health Development Agenda.” 

Dr Ulysses Dorotheo, the Programme Director of SEATCA says, “ASEAN is already moving towards a cohesive economic community.  But a vibrant economy is not possible without a healthy and productive workforce.  Thus we need to address the NCDs.”

According to Francis Wong, Regional Director of ADI, preventing NCDs will require a multi-sector approach to address risk factors. This will involve other government ministries and departments in addition to health, such as environment, finance, justice and transport.  

The ASEAN NCD Alliance is affiliated with the NCD Alliance at the global level: