NCD Academy

NCD academy

Why NCD Academy Matters

NCD Academy is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between major actors in global health to equip frontline health workers with integrated, mobile-first education on NCD care as they take on a more prominent role in prevention. 

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 71% of global deaths, with cardiovascular disease (CVD) ranked number one. Considering that 45% of WHO member states report having less than one physician per 1,000 residents, health care systems globally are realizing the importance of upskilling nurses and community health workers to play a greater role in patient care, while also refreshing primary care doctors’ knowledge of best practice. Comprehensive NCD education for these providers at the ground level of patient care is of critical importance given shared risk factors and bidirectional impacts between these diseases. The goal with NCD Academy is to fill this need and foster progress toward achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What Makes NCD Academy Unique?

  • Entirely free for download worldwide.
  • Available for iOS and Android, as well as via desktop.

    NCD academy NCD academy

  • Interactive lessons that emphasize practice through gamified learning.
  • Input by experts from around the world to ensure applicability to local practice.
  • Course completion results in a digital certificate badge to showcase mastery of topics.
  • A one-stop-shop for primary care providers to access education on various NCDs that represent the greatest contributors to global mortality.

Who is NCD Academy for?

  • General practitioners and nurses based at community clinics who act as the main source of care for patients seeking medical guidance and treatment in rural and remote areas.
  • Internists and nurses at hospitals who are tasked with assessing newly-admitted patients and providing non-critical care.
  • Community health workers who support preventive efforts and early detection in underserved communities through health promotion and disease screening.


What are the main goals with NCD Academy and what has prompted this new program?
What are the main goals with NCD Academy and what has prompted this new program?

Overarching Goals:

Since 2016, the ACC’s Global Prevention Program has reached nearly 70,000 cardiologists and primary care providers with education to manage CVD risk and better treat patients experiencing disease through webinars and live events hosted in 10 countries around the world. With expertise and resources from our expanded partner consortium—including NCD Alliance, the World Heart Federation, and Pfizer Upjohn—the ACC is now leading a more ambitious charge to improve primary care globally:

  • Goal #1: Leverage the prevalence of mobile devices to offer frontline health workers worldwide free education available whenever, wherever, on practical, evidence-based strategies for disease prevention.
  • Goal #2: Equip providers with accessible education on the intersections between major NCDs that take the greatest toll on mortality and morbidity. 


In recognition of the enormous strain that NCDs place on global mortality and, in turn, economic development, NCD reduction targets were adopted for the first time by UN member states as part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Though this has accelerated investment and innovation around the NCD crisis, a recent report from NCD Alliance, “Protecting Populations, Preserving Futures: Optimising the Health Workforce to Combat NCDs and Achieve UHC,” points to continued gaps in efforts to proliferate universal health coverage (UHC). 

Inadequate human resources for healthcare is a key challenge. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global community will need to address a shortfall of an estimated 18 million health workers to achieve SDG targets. While improving the quantity of health care providers (HCPs) is critical long term, maximizing the quality and range of care that existing HCPs are empowered to offer is essential to achieving SDG targets within the desired timeframe. Specialists are scarce, and clinicians in general are too few and far between in many low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) to meet the needs of patients. Non-clinicians, including nurses and community health workers, must be better utilized to screen for NCDs and manage risk.

As an organization that lobbied for the inclusion of NCDs in the UN Agenda and has a long history of partnership with clinical societies globally, the ACC is fully committed to pursuing SDG targets and is continually reassessing how to direct our member expertise and core competencies toward gaps in the global health community’s NCD response. 

Key Drivers:

  • Recommendations for health systems strengthening: Of the five proposals that NCD Alliance outlines in their report to facilitate implementation of primary care systems worldwide, NCD Academy targets three:
  • Enhance multi-sectoral collaboration to strengthen the health workforce.
  • Leverage multidisciplinary care teams, with a robust role for community health workers to deliver primary healthcare for NCDs
  • Leverage digital tools to enhance the capacity and reach of the health workforce
  • NCD intersectionality: In addressing these recommendations, the ACC believes an integrated NCD approach is of upmost importance. It has long been known that NCDs originate from similar risk factors, and medical science continues to reveal insights on bidirectional causality and options for dual management. 

Given the College’s experience in global health efforts around CVD reduction and our strong partnerships across the health care sector, the ACC is uniquely positioned and proud to be leading development of innovative solutions for quality and accessible clinician education on NCDs.  

What are the course topics?
What are the course topics?

Cardiovascular Disease & Stroke Prevention

  • Foundational knowledge required to more accurately assess the risk of cardiovascular diseases and identify the treatment of lipids based on a patient’s global ASCVD risk.
  • Guidelines to customize lifestyle recommendations, including diet, physical activity, and use of addictive products, based on patient profile.
  • Diagnosis and treatment strategies for hypertension based on blood pressure thresholds.
  • Best practices for managing diabetes as a cardiovascular disorder.
  • Management of risk factors for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, along with the contextual issues related to stroke.
  • Evidence on using Aspirin as a treatment strategy for patients suffering from heart & brain stroke.
What other NCDs are planned for future courses?
What other NCDs are planned for future courses?

The ACC aims to release courses on the “Big 5” NCDs in collaboration with other leading clinical education societies. NCDs under consideration include the four that take the greatest toll on global mortality—CVD, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes—as well as mental health disorders given the strong correlation between this spectrum of diseases and other NCDs. All courses will cover clinical skills and knowledge for NCD prevention at the primary care level, such as screening, health promotion, risk reduction, and basic management.   

What are the criteria to successfully complete a course, and what recognition do I receive?
What are the criteria to successfully complete a course, and what recognition do I receive?
  • Learners must complete all course lessons to unlock a final summative assessment.
  • Learners must correctly answer at least 70% of questions to pass the summative assessment.
  • Learners may attempt the summative assessment up to three times.
  • Learners who pass the summative assessment will receive a digital certificate badge that may be shared on social media, incorporated in a resume, or downloaded and printed as a traditional certificate.
  • Given that NCD Academy is intended for audiences outside the United States, digital badges are not approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and are not eligible for MOC credit through the American Board of Internal Medicine
Where can I learn more about expert contributors?
Where can I learn more about expert contributors?

All NCD Academy courses are overseen by a team of highly-regarded faculty with deep personal experience in diverse global regions to cultivate a curriculum that is broadly applicable and sensitive to differences in practice.


Salim Virani MD, PhD, FACC
Professor of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
Staff Cardiologist
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Chair, Prevention Council, ACC

Jorge F. Trejo-Gutierrez MD, MHS, FACC

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
Medical Director, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Program
Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville

Dong Zhao MD, PhD
Deputy Director & Professor
Beijing Institute of Heart, Lung & Blood Vessel Diseases
Capital Medical University Beijing Anzhen Hospital


Geoffrey Barnes, MD, MSc, FACC
Assistant Professor
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
University of Michigan Health System

Nihar Desai, MD, MPH, FACC
Associate Professor
Associate Chief, Clinical Operation, Cardiovascular Medicine Investigator,
Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation
Yale University School of Medicine

John W. McEvoy, MB, BCh, BAO, MHS
Professor of Preventive Cardiology National University of Ireland, Galway
Medical and Research Director
National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health, Galway, Ireland
Adjunct Faculty
Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease
Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland

Samuel Reinhardt, MD
Cardiology Fellow
Yale University School of Medicine

Ralph Riello III, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Coronary Intensive Care Unit (CICU)
Department of Pharmacy Services
Yale New Haven Hospital


Alexandra Arias-Mendoza, MD, FACC
Instituto Nacional de Cardiologìa “Ignacio Chàvez”

Sondra M. DePalma, DHSc, PA-C, CLS, AACC
Cardiology Physician Assistant
PinnacleHealth System
Director, Regulatory and Professional Practice
American Academy of Physician Assistants

Ravi S. Hira, MD, FACC
Assistant Professor of Cardiology and Medicine
Director, Acute Cardiac Services and Cardiac Catheterization
University of Washington
My English fluency is limited. Will NCD Academy be offered in other languages?
My English fluency is limited. Will NCD Academy be offered in other languages?

The ACC intends to translate NCD Academy lessons to other languages as part of our commitment to maximizing course accessibility and relevance to global audiences. Lessons will be translated to Chinese, Spanish, and possibly other languages as well depending on course demand.

How does NCD Academy account for differences in health systems from one country to the next?
How does NCD Academy account for differences in health systems from one country to the next?

NCD Academy lessons anchor on teaching points and recommendations that are largely consistent across major guidelines. For topics where guidelines diverge, lessons take a comparative approach. To further contextualize education for learners, NCD Academy features an ever-growing supplemental library of local expert interviews on the burden of NCDs in their home country and the role of primary care providers in disease prevention.

I’m interested in learning more. Who can I contact?
I’m interested in learning more. Who can I contact?

For more information, feel free to inquire at This includes health care providers participating in NCD Academy, as well as individuals or organizations interested in playing a larger role in supporting this program. 

Available free of charge worldwide through support from:

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