The survey, completed by 155 countries during a three-week period in May, confirmed that the impact was global, but that low-income countries were most affected.
Noncommunicable diseases kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 per cent of all deaths globally.
He said the survey showed that health services have been partially or completely disrupted in many countries.
“More than half, 53 per cent of the countries surveyed, have partially or completely disrupted services for hypertension treatment; 49 per cent for treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related complications.
“42 per cent for cancer treatment, and 31 per cent for cardiovascular emergencies.
“Rehabilitation services have been disrupted in almost two-thirds, 63 per cent of countries, even though rehabilitation is key to a healthy recovery following severe illness from COVID-19,” he said.
He noted that the most common reasons for discontinuing or reducing services were cancellations of planned treatments, decrease in public transport available and lack of staff, due to reassignment of health workers to support COVID-19 services.
“In one in five countries, 20 per cent reporting disruptions, one of the main reasons for discontinuing services is a shortage of medicines, diagnostics and other technologies.
“Unsurprisingly, there appears to be a correlation between levels of disruption to services for treating NCDs and the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak in a country.
“Services become increasingly disrupted as a country moves from sporadic cases to community transmission of the Coronavirus,” he said.
“72 per cent of high-income countries reported inclusion compared to 42 per cent of low-income countries.
“Services to address cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease were the most frequently included,” he said.
Ghebreyesus disclosed that 17 per cent of countries reporting, had started to allocate additional funding from the government budget to include the provision of NCD services in their national COVID-19 plan.
He, however, noted that encouraging findings of the survey was that alternative strategies had been established in most countries to support the people at highest risk to continue receiving treatment for NCDs.
Ghebreyesus said that globally, 58 per cent of countries reporting service disruptions were now using telemedicine (advice by telephone or online means) to replace in-person consultations.
He added that triaging to determine priorities had also been widely used in two-thirds of countries reporting.
Commenting, Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, WHO, said it would take time before the full extent of the impact of disruptions to health care during COVID-19 on people with noncommunicable diseases was known.
“What we know now, however, is that not only are people with NCDs more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with the virus, but many are unable to access the treatment they need to manage their illnesses.
“It is very important not only that care for people living with NCDs is included in national response and preparedness plans for COVID-19 -̶ but that innovative ways are found to implement those plans,” Mikkelsen said.
Mikkelsen advised countries to strengthen their health services in order to be better equipped to prevent, diagnose and provide care for NCDs in the future, in any circumstances.