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Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and mental illnesses are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Surprisingly, the burden is especially high in developing countries, which bear 80 percent of deaths due to NCDs. Four main factors are at fault: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets,and alcohol use. The good news is that much of the NCD burden can be prevented through interventions that are affordable in most countries. The United States can help now by taking five low-cost or no-cost steps:

  • End tariff-reducing trade practices for tobacco.
  • Partner with public and private donors.
  • Leverage U.S. influence in multilateral development institutions.
  • Exploit synergies between disease control and other development projects.
  • Encourage evidence-informed budget allocation.

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