Helpdesk Report: The Political Economy of NCDs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The report identifies literature that questions whether non-communicable diseases rates are more prevalent in wealthier socio-economic groups



Produce a report looking at the political economy of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, focus on how rising rates of NCDs, which tend to be highly prevalent in wealthier socio-economic groups, may influence:

  1. The discourse on health priorities in low/lower-middle income countries where the wealthy tend to capture more than their fair share of services.
  2. The allocation of expertise and resources in countries. Is there a danger that communicable diseases and reproductive maternal and child health will receive lower priority for resource allocation as a result?


There is a growing movement advocating for an increased focus on resourcing the control and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), ie The Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance. The proponents of tackling NCDs often quote figures for NCD impact in LMICs without discussing disparities between socio-economic groups. The rapid search for this report identified some literature that questions the notion that NCD rates are more prevalent in wealthier socio-economic groups.

National NCD policies should be geared to addressing primary prevention and equity of health systems. Health systems need reconfiguration to ensure equitable access to essential NCD interventions. Context-specific research is identified as a requirement to address implementation gaps in NCD policy, as policy development and implementation are driven by political realities and cultural specificities.


Bolton, L.; Mahua Das; Thompson, S. Helpdesk Report: The Political Economy of NCDs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART), Oxford, UK (2014) 15 pp.

Published 1 January 2014