The growing number of countries transitioning from low to middle income signals a corresponding and increasing convergence of infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, calling for new approaches to prevention and control. Direct interactions, such as the association between infectious risk factors and chronic medical conditions (e.g., gastric ulcers, cardiovascular diseases, cancer) are well documented. However, there is also evidence of increased susceptibility to infectious diseases in persons with noncommunicable conditions -- notably obesity, hypertension, cancers, and autoimmune diseases – that suggests expected exponential increases in populations living with health problems that might increase vulnerability to emerging infections.
The outcomes of last year’s PMAC, “Making the World Safe from the Threats of Emerging Infections” and the theme of PMAC 2019, “The Political Economy of NCDs: A Whole of Society Approach”, present a timely opportunity to explore these interactions and consider options for health policies, systems and research. To this end, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will organize a half-day side event at PMAC 2019, titled “The Convergence of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Non-Communicable Diseases: The Future is Now. Bridging PMAC 2018 and 2019.” A better understanding of these linkages and mutual vulnerabilities will inform development partners and countries as they both tackle the increasing burden of NCDs, and also prepare for and prevent emerging infectious diseases—including outbreaks.