EHS-COVID (280) Addressing the double burden of the COVID-19 and noncommunicable disease pandemics: a new global governance challenge

6 May, 2021

This new publication by the WHO authors might be of interest to HIFA colleagues in different countries and regions.

Collins, T., Tello, J., Van Hilten, M., Mahy, L., Banatvala, N., Fones, G., Akselrod, S., Bull, F., Cieza, A., Farrington, J., Fisher, J., Gonzalez, C., Guerra, J., Hanna, F., Jakab, Z., Kulikov, A., Saeed, K., Abdel Latif, N., Mikkelsen, B., Pourghazian, N., Troisi, G. and Willumsen, J. (2021), "Addressing the double burden of the COVID-19 and noncommunicable disease pandemics: a new global governance challenge", International Journal of Health Governance, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Open access


Purpose: As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread across countries, it is becoming increasingly clear that the presence of pre-existing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) dramatically increases the risk of aggravation in persons who contract the virus. The neglect in managing NCDs during emergencies may result in fatal consequences for individuals living with comorbidities. This paper aims to highlight the need for a paradigm shift in the governance of public health emergencies to simultaneously address NCD and noncommunicable disease (CD) pandemics while taking into account the needs of high-risk populations, underlying etiological factors, and the social, economic, and environmental determinants that are relevant for both CDs and NCDs.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews the available global frameworks for pandemic preparedness to highlight the governance challenges of addressing the dual agenda of NCDs and CDs during a public health emergency. It proposes key strategies to strengthen multilevel governance in support of countries to better prepare for public health emergencies through the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders across sectors.

Findings: Addressing both CD and NCD pandemics during public health emergencies requires (1) a new framework that unites the narratives and overcomes service and system fragmentations; (2) a multisectoral and multistakeholder governance mechanism empowered and resourced to include stakeholders across sectors and (3) a prioritized research agenda to understand the political economy of pandemics, the role played by different political systems and actors and implementation challenges, and to identify combined strategies to address the converging agendas of CDs and NCDs.

Research limitations/implications: The article is based on the review of available published evidence.

Practical implications

The uptake of the strategies proposed will better prepare countries to respond to NCD and CD pandemics during public health emergencies.


The article is the first of its kind addressing the governance challenges of the dual pandemic of NCDs and CDs in emergencies.

HIFA profile: Irina Ibraghimova is a medical librarian, based in Croatia, and works with health care professionals in the countries of the Former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa. Her interests include evidence-based practice (both in health care and in library/informatics field). She is a HIFA Country Representative for Croatia.

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