The integration of health services for people living with HIV and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) can significantly enhance health outcomes and generate substantial returns on investment, according to a new report titled Spending Wisely: Exploring the economic and societal benefits of integrating HIV/AIDS and NCDs service delivery .
The report, launched by the NCD Alliance and RTI International ahead of the Global Week for Action on NCDs, highlights the economic and societal benefits of combining HIV/AIDS and NCD services.
People with HIV, thanks to antiretroviral therapy (ART), are now living longer, but this success has resulted in a higher prevalence of NCDs among this population. In some countries, over 50% of individuals with HIV also have NCDs.
“The reality on the ground in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa is that for a person living with HIV having access to treatment and care for other chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension is just as important as receiving antiretroviral drugs,” said Monika Arora, President of the NCD Alliance.
The report presents findings from a systematic literature review of HIV-NCD service delivery integration models in low- and middle-income countries. It identifies several key points, including:
- Positive Outcomes: Approximately 79% of integrated programs reported favorable and significant outcomes in at least half of the measured categories.
- Improvement in HIV Outcomes: Eleven out of 13 programs assessing both NCD and HIV-related outcomes reported either improvements or maintenance of HIV outcomes alongside positive NCD outcomes.
- Success in Targeting Depression: Programs focusing on depression showed high success, achieving favorable results in 10 out of 13 measured outcomes.
Four Main HIV Co-morbidities in LMICs: Cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, and cancer are the primary co-morbidities associated with HIV in low- and middle-income countries. People with HIV are at an increased risk of these conditions.
The report concludes with recommendations for governments, donors, and researchers to continue advancing integrated service delivery as a means to achieve Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals on a global scale.
Publication of the report comes just one week ahead of the Global Week for Action on NCDs which begins on 14 September and brings together civil society organisations and individuals around the world in calling on governments to ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare, regardless of their ability to pay, where they live or who they are. This must include care for NCDs.
The report’s launch also aligns with the United Nations High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Universal Health Coverage on September 21, a critical opportunity for governments to commit to specific actions for achieving UHC by 2030.
Over 20% of the global population lives with at least one NCD. Each year NCDs cause 41 million deaths and drive millions of households into poverty. It has been projected that by 2030, NCD deaths could reach 52 million per year, adding a significant burden to communities and health systems.
This number is being driven upward by a growing population and by ever-increasing exposure to risk factors like unhealthy diets, tobacco, alcohol, and air pollution. The burden of NCDs is expected to increase significantly in the coming years due to population growth and rising risk factors.
A virtual event, co-hosted by the World Health Organization, the World Diabetes Foundation, and the NCD Alliance, will take place during the Global Week for Action on NCDs. Titled “Towards achieving Universal Health Coverage: Multistakeholder Gathering on Tackling Noncommunicable Diseases,” the event will explore cross-cutting actions to strengthen NCD prevention and control.
This year’s Global Week for Action on NCDs coincides with the United Nations High-Level Meeting (HLM) on UHC, where governments are expected to make commitments towards achieving universal health coverage by 2030.