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 are convening a policy workshop on non-communicable diseases in South Asia and beyond in Sri Lanka on the 23/24 January 2020.


This two-day workshop on the 23-24 Janurary in Sri Lanka, chaired by Professor Vajira Dissanayake and Professor Liam Smeeth FMedSci, will facilitate discussions around the research to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Asia and beyond.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic and often slow progressing diseases that result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. It is estimated that an increasing global prevalence of NCDs is the cause of up to 41 million deaths worldwide each year, representing 71% of all deaths. However, NCDs disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). More than three quarters of NCD deaths (32 million) occur in LMICs, 40% of which are categorised as ‘premature deaths’ (between ages 30 and 69 years). For high income countries this figure is closer to 26%.

NCDs are driven by rapid unplanned urbanisation, unhealthy lifestyles (including unhealthy diets, tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol and a lack of physical activity) and population aging. Research to identify and understand these risks better is essential to develop approaches to mitigate these. Countries in South Asia and beyond face a double burden of diseases, both from infectious diseases and from the growing prevalence of NCDs. In Sri Lanka for example, NCDs are estimated to account for 75% of total deaths. NCDs are more than just a health problem; poverty is closely link to the prevalence of NCDs, which makes the burden of NCDs also a development challenge. The rise of NCDs threatens the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target of reducing premature deaths by one-third under SDG Goals 3.

The objective of this workshop is to consider the status for NCDs in South Asia, with respect to relevant SDG targets. The aims are to identify approaches that could accelerate progress in implementing existing tools, identify innovations that could be disruptive, and review opportunities to support increased research leadership. In addition, the workshop will aim to impact policy uptake, specifically through the use of science and investment in research and research leadership.

Following the workshop, a written report will be produced and disseminated to UK and stakeholders within the region with identified next steps to help tackle NCDs South Asia. 

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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