During the past two decades, global deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have rapidly increased. NCDs, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are responsible for 74% of all deaths worldwide. They are mainly due to tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets. A large number of people living with NCDs are also likely to develop some form of disability as the disease progresses.

Mental health is another growing global health issue. Related needs are high but national responses are insufficient and inadequate as countries worldwide dedicate less than 2% of their health care budget to mental health. Mental health problems can occur in many different shapes and severities. What starts as acute stress, insomnia or fear can develop into a burn-out, clinical depression, or anxiety disorder if adequate support is not provided. Many effective forms of support or therapy exist, and only a few of them need to be administered in closed psychiatric hospitals. Yet, the vast majority of government funding goes into such clinics. Health and social care systems need to invest more in community-based psychological and social support to help affected people close to their homes.

GFA concept and services

© MH4U project Ukraine as contributor to a national forum for psychosocial care In line with Sustainable Development Goal 3, GFA contributes to reducing premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment and to promoting mental health, quality of life, and well-being. Given gender-specific disease burdens and exposure to risk factors, this approach is tailored to the specific needs of men and women.

In order to reduce the NCD burdens, teams of experts support leadership and governance for ministries and organizations at national and decentralized levels. They enable medical and nursing institutions to provide trainings on the prevention, treatment and management of NCDs, introduce new and updated protocols, and strengthen referral systems. They also develop tools for patient education and counselling and work with communities to raise awareness on risk factors and encourage healthy lifestyles at schools and work places, and through mass as well as social media. Digital health constitutes another important part of the GFA approach to NCD programs. This comprises applications for digital learning, referral and online appointment systems, patient education, and the adherence to protocols by health professionals.

GFA service provision to improve mental health include community-based interventions that prevent mental health disorders at a young age, and promote better access to related services. Experienced consultants enhance capacities by training health providers in evidence-based treatment approaches to provide psycho-social support for people affected by war. They also empower families to support members with mental health needs, improve access to treatment, and address psychological needs of schoolchildren and adolescents.

Photo on top: ThitareeSarmkasat | istockphoto


Eva Schildbach
Director Health Department
E-mail: eva.schildbach[at]


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