Several global socio-political and environmental trends and drivers contribute to shape contemporary humanitarian landscape. The global demographic shift to an ageing world with higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases and related risk factors among populations affected by emergencies is one the challenges the global humanitarian community has to address.
Non communicable diseases, namely cardiovascular diseases, cancers , chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70% of all deaths globally. 15 million of those deaths occur before 70 years and over 80% of these "premature" deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
These demographic and epidemiological changes are happening fastest in developing countries where people are more at risk from natural and man-made disasters and where capacity to prepare for, respond and recover from them is limited. The situation creates unprecedented challenges in humanitarian emergencies for agencies and affected countries in terms of provision of health services, continuity of care, access to medications, and costs.
NCDs and mental health have traditionally been neglected and underfunded and have emerged relatively unnoticed in the developing world where the focus of the international community has been on combating maternal and child health conditions and other infectious diseases such as, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. As a result, NCD and mental health have traditionally struggled to get significant financing. The focus on protecting people from emergencies in WHO new 13th Global Programme of Work (GPW13) and the inclusion of NCDs and mental health as part of the Sustainable Development Goals offer a window of opportunity to mainstream these conditions as part of humanitarian preparedness and responses, bridging the gap between humanitarian relief and development.