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As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia takes the helm of the World Health Organization this week as its eighth Director-General, and the first from sub-Saharan Africa, he has set an ambitious agenda for the organization. During his campaign for the office and since his election, Tedros has consistently emphasized WHO’s important role as a guardian of equity — in particular ensuring that the world’s poorest populations have access to health care as a fundamental human right.

As practitioners and advocates for improving the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, we applaud Tedros and WHO for their commitment to assuring universal health coverage for all. At the same time, we want to call his attention to a critical gap in the global agenda for health equity and universal health coverage — the crushing but largely overlooked burden of noncommunicable diseases and injuries on the world’s poorest people and communities.

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