Non-communicable disease (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neuropsychiatric conditions are a major global problem, accounting for about 36 million of the 57 million deaths annually. The WHO estimates that this figure will increase by 17% in the next 10 years. In September 2011, the United Nations held a landmark summit meeting calling for greater measures to prevent and control NCDs. Because of limited resources, data on the cost effectiveness of the strategies to tackle NCDs are needed. On 2 March 2012, the BMJ published a series of articles determining the cost effectiveness of strategies to combat NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia − this information is crucial to prioritise interventions that could be used to control NCDs in developing countries.