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Commentary & Opinion
Global AIDS Response Provides Lessons for Fighting NCDs

September 21, 2012

"If left unaddressed, [non-communicable diseases (NCDs)] will lead to more death, disability and the implosion of already overburdened health systems in developing countries at huge cost to individuals, families, businesses and society," Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and former UNAIDS executive director, writes in the Huffington Post "Impact" blog, adding, "Like AIDS, NCDs are a problem for rich and poor countries alike, but the poor suffer the most." He continues, "The 2011 U.N. High-Level Meeting on NCDs -- only the second time the U.N. had convened a major meeting on a health issue, following the U.N. AIDS Summit in June 2001 -- was a landmark event in the short history of the fight against NCDs but was not a tipping point. Much more remains to be done."

Piot lists several lessons learned "from AIDS that can help leaders design effective and sustainable responses to NCDs," including points on leadership, multidisciplinary response, accountability, and efficient resource utilization. "I am not suggesting that we should transpose mechanically the AIDS experience to the very complex realities of NCDs, but I believe that leaders of the NCD response can be inspired by, and learn from, the AIDS experience," he writes, adding, "With more people living for longer periods with AIDS, it is the chronic nature of AIDS that is giving governments and health experts a new opportunity -- to use health systems set up for HIV/AIDS care and treatment and strengthen them to address NCDs" (9/20).

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