The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health

What's in an NCD Policy?

The PA4NCDs Project: Analysing the strength of diet-related policies in six countries
Research team: PI: Professor Sarah Hawkes (University College London). Collaborators: National Public Health Institute (Afghanistan), icddr,b (Bangladesh), CREHPA (Nepal), Aga Khan University (Pakistan), National Health Institute (Tunisia), Hanoi School of Public Health (Vietnam).


Globally, NCDs are on the rise. At present, they account for 71% of all deaths and in some countries this figure is higher still.

The strength of national diet-related policies should match the severity of the burden of non- communicable diseases (NCDs), and government action should be focused on the most critical dietary drivers and population groups at risk. Yet, while many countries are beginning to recognise the importance of addressing NCDs, there has been little rigorous analysis of country-level policies to tackle NCDs associated with unhealthy diets.

The Policy Analysis for NCDs (PA4NCDs) project set out to undertake an assessment of national policies and strategies related to promoting healthy diets across six countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia and Vietnam. The study compared national NCD policies to global recommendations, evaluating the extent to which policies include effective and equitable attributes to improve population health. The findings can be accessed via country-specific policy briefs below.

Alongside the project findings, the policy briefs below provide evidence-informed recommendations for shaping comprehensive, effective and equitable diet-related NCD policies.

The NCD Policy Cube

To represent these findings, the PA4NCDs project has introduced the concept of the NCD "Policy Cube" - a framework to present three key axes of a robust policy environment to address and prevent NCDs: comprehensiveness, effectiveness and equity.

Find out more and view the country policy cubes here.


1. Develop a network of health policy analysts and strengthen capacity to understand and influence legislation, planning and implementation of NCD-related policies

2. To map in each of the six countries the current policy landscape (existence of policy, levels of implementation) for NCD control, to identify policy gaps and challenges for effective control and identify positive examples of policy formulation and/or implementation (or of other pro-equity population health policies adopted)


1. Examine the content and focus of NCD policies at national level, and compare these with the WHO recommendations.

2. Evaluate the extent to which the national policies followed core attributes of effective and equitable public policies to improve population health outcomes.

3. Explore the facilitators and challenges of getting NCD issues on the agenda with focus on sugar, trans-fats and salt.

4. Build tailored transferable lessons across participating countries to strengthen capacity to advocate for evidence-informed NCD policies.

5. Develop a network of health policy analysts in Asia and North Africa, and strengthen capacity to understand and influence formulation, adoption, planning and implementation of NCD-related governance and regulation policies.

Policy Briefs