Preventing non-communicable diseases through the law: the role of civil society and academia. Experiences from East Africa and South Asia
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International Development Law Organization Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1470
According to World Health Organization (WHO) figures, Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) cause 17 million premature deaths each year among people between the ages of 30 and 69. The great majority of these deaths are preventable through cost-effective interventions that aim to address the main modifiable behavioural risk factors. Many of these interventions are implemented through legal measures. Since 2019, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) has undertaken a project, in collaboration with WHO and other partners, to enhance Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) capacities to design, implement and monitor legal and policy measures to address two of the main NCD risk factors: unhealthy diets and insufficient physical activity. This presentation will describe the approach, methodology and key results of the project implemented in East Africa and South-East Asia, with a specific focus on the role of civil society and academia in creating an enabling environment for regulatory and policy reforms for NCD prevention.

Methods and Results:
The methodology combines three complementary components: i) capacity building; ii) social mobilization; iii) evidence generation. The project has supported the engagement of civil society organizations (CSOs) in policy discussion to advocate for legal and policy reforms for NCD prevention. Six CSOs from five LMICs have been provided with technical and financial assistance, as well as with capacity building to call for action on NCD prevention measures. The project has also fostered collaboration between legal and public health scholars from local universities to promote research, publication and teaching on legal avenues for NCD prevention at local level. In East Africa, an academic working group has been created as the first of its kind to promote inter-disciplinary collaboration on Law and NCD issues in the Region.

The project has shown the critical role that civil society and academia play in addressing NCDs through legal avenues.

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