Document Type


Publication Date



Law lies at the centre of successful national strategies for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases. By law we mean international agreements, national and subnational legislation, regulations and other executive instruments, and decisions of courts and tribunals. However, the vital role of law in global health development is often poorly understood, and eclipsed by other disciplines such as medicine, public health and economics. This paper identifies key areas of intersection between law and noncommunicable diseases, beginning with the role of law as a tool for implementing policies for prevention and control of leading risk factors. We identify actions that the World Health Organization and its partners could take to mobilize the legal workforce, strengthen legal capacity and support effective use of law at the national level. Legal and regulatory actions must move to the centre of national noncommunicable disease action plans. This requires high-level leadership from global and national leaders, enacting evidence-based legislation and building legal capacities.

Publication Citation

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Volume 97, Number 2, 108-117.