The World Health Organisation (WHO) member states have agreed on the world’s first global monitoring framework to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The consensus was reached during a recent meeting of WHO member states, the African and European Unions, and non-governmental organisations held in Geneva from 5-7 November 2012.

The draft framework comprises nine voluntary global targets and 25 indicators for the prevention and control of NCDs. It aims to assess any progress made in reducing associated illnesses and deaths, and the response of national health systems to NCDs.

“The new global monitoring framework will enable us to assess progress across regional and country setting and to monitor trends,” chairman of the WHO meeting, Dr Bjorn-Inge Larsen said.

“The agreed voluntary targets are aspirational but achievable and they will drive progress in prevention and control at national, regional and global levels,” Dr Larsen added.

Among some of the targets and indicators outlined in the draft global monitoring framework are combating premature mortality from NCDs, and calling on national governments to report policies to reduce the impact of food and drink marketing to children for products high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt (HFSS products).

According to Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, these targets and indicators highlighted will be the “building blocks” for world to combat NCDs together.

“They will provide the foundation for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitment and promoting global action to tackle these deadly diseases,” he said.

The draft framework document also notes that some of the global voluntary targets and indicators have already been implemented and adopted in certain countries. These include the 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2012, and the WHO Recommendations on the Marketing of Food and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children in May 2010.

The draft global monitoring framework will be discussed by the WHO Executive Board during its 132nd session in January 2013 before being submitted to the World Health Assembly in May 2013 for consideration and adoption.