Noncommunicable Disease Risk Factors in the Americas: Considerations on the Strengthening of Regulatory Capacity. REGULA Technical Reference Document


This document, prepared under the the Organization’s innovative initiative “Strengthening Regulatory Capacity in the Region of the Americas for NCD Risk Factors” (REGULA), provides an overview of the status of key noncommunicable disease (NCD) risk factors in the Americas and fulfillment of international agreements that support action by Ministries of Health to protect populations from the associated risks factors. It reviews the current regulatory situation in the Region, resents the key conceptual and operational elements of effective regulation, and proposes lines of action for technical cooperation to strengthen regulatory capacity for NCDs in the Americas. Its focus is on regulation, an approach that has been clearly recognized as an essential public health function and one in which capacity lags behind other fields of public health action. Strengthening regulatory capacity and action is by no means the only approach to reducing NCD risk factors, but it is an indispensable component of the suite of actions needed to prevent and control noncommunicable disease in the Region. Ten of the 15 “very cost-effective” interventions (also called “best-buys”) cited in the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs and the WHO Global Status Report on NCDs (2014) involve the effective use of law or regulation. It has been estimated that these population-based interventions can be provided in low- and middle-income countries at a cost of US$ 0.20 per capita and in upper middle-income countries for US$ 0.50 per capita (WHO, 2011c).