Science to tackle non-communicable diseases in South Asia and beyond in the SDG era

The Academy of Medical Sciences and National Academy of Science of Sri Lanka convened a policy workshop on non-communicable diseases in South Asia and beyond in Sri Lanka on the 23-24 January 2020.

Status: Completed


The UK Academy and the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka hosted a workshop on research to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Asia. Professor Vajira Dissanayake and Professor Liam Smeeth FMedSci chaired this workshop on the 23-24 January 2020 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

A meeting report was produced and disseminated to stakeholders in the UK and the region. This report outlines the need for a more collaborative approach between different disease areas to aid the development and implementation of acceptable, equitable, scalable and sustainable approaches to reduce disease burdens

The report can be downloaded from the Downloads tab on this page.


Watch our short animation which summarises the discussion and proposed actions to address NCDs in South Asia: 

NCDs are chronic and often slow progressing diseases resulting from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. The prevalence of NCDs is increasing globally. Estimates show that 71% of all deaths (41 million) are due to NCDs each year. People living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are unequally affected by NCDs. More than three quarters of NCD deaths (32 million) occur in LMICs. Many of these deaths, upt to 40%, are ‘premature deaths’ between ages 30 and 69 years. For high income countries this figure is closer to just 26%.

Rapid unplanned urbanisation, unhealthy lifestyles (unhealthy diets, tobacco use, alcohol and lack of physical activity) and population aging drivee NCDs. Research is necessary to identify and understand risk factors better and develop approaches to mitigate these. South Asia countries often face a double burden of diseases, from infectious diseases and the growing prevalence of NCDs. In Sri Lanka, NCDs account for an estimated 75% of total deaths.

NCDs are more than just a health problem but also a development challenge. Poverty is closely link to the prevalence of NCDs. The rise of NCDs threatens the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG.

This workshop considered the status for NCDs in South Asia within the context of the SDG targets. We aimed to identify the approaches that could:

  • speed up progress in implementing existing tools
  • identify innovations that could be disruptive
  • review opportunities to support increased research leadership
  • impact policy uptake through investment in research and research leadership and the use of science

Click here to find out more about our previous GCRF workshops and read the workshop reports.

This workshop is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund that aims to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Visit our GCRF webpage to read more about the fund. 

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