How is policy incoherence problematised at the global level, and what are the implications for NCD prevention?


Economic and policy considerations are crucial for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the pursuit of global non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention, understanding the discourse surrounding policy coherence and economics is crucial given the dependence of health and social well-being on modes of governing. This project seeks to identify how economics are positioned in the SDGs, particularly in the relationship between economics and the determinants of health. This goal was completed through the comprehensive collection of documents published by the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations. Following the review of documents, a thematic coding structure that organized recurring ideas into the typologies of hierarchy, balance, and reimagining was developed. These typologies categorize the different prioritizations that economics are understood to have in development concerns; hierarchy as economic dominance, balance as the achievable blend of economic concerns with other social concerns, and reimagining as the utopian ideas where economic concerns are reconceived, thus driving movement towards balance. The findings illustrate that discourse around development is dominated by economic concerns, particularly in its relation to factors like the determinants of health and social well-being. This is a primary challenge for policy coherence, as the prioritization of economics over other development goals is rooted in the assumption that strong economics leads to strong societies. Given the increasing burden of NCDs and shifting landscape of population health concerns globally, this research illustrates that policy coherence for health, environment, and social development requires reimagining the relationships between economics and other policy domains.

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