Diseases that are not communicable

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Facts and figures

  • Globally, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, representing 71% of all deaths.
  • Over 15 million people die each year of a NCD between 30 and 69 years of age; 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Seventy-seven percent of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • NCD deaths are mostly caused by cardiovascular diseases (17.9 million people per year), followed by cancers (9.3 million), respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (1.5 million).
  • Over 80% of all premature deaths from NCDs are caused by these four groups of diseases.
  • The use of tobacco, physical inactivity, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy food all increase the risk of dying from a NCD.
  • Detection, screening, and treatment of NCDs, along with palliative care, are key components of responding to NCDs.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to last for an extended period of time and are a result of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors.

Heart attacks, strokes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes are the main types of NCDs.

Over three quarters of global NCD deaths – 31,4 million – occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Those at risk of NCDs

NCDs affect people from all age groups, regions, and countries. NCDs are typically associated with older age groups, but data shows that more than 15 million deaths are attributable to NCDs between the ages of 30 and 69. In low- and middle-income countries, 85% of these “premature” deaths occur. NCD risk factors affect children, adults, and the elderly equally, whether through unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco smoke exposure, or alcohol abuse.

Rapid unplanned urbanization, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles, and population aging are driving forces behind these diseases. People with a poor diet and little physical activity may experience high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, high blood lipid levels and obesity. Cardiovascular disease is the leading NCD when it comes to premature deaths, due to metabolic risk factors.

Factors that increase risk

Several modifiable behaviors, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, and harmful drinking, increase the risk of annarogalev.de

  • Every year, tobacco is responsible for the deaths of over 7.2 million people (including the effects of secondhand smoke), and that number is expected to rise significantly over the next few years (11).
  • Excess salt and sodium consumption are responsible for 4.1 million deaths annually (1).
  • More than half of the 3.3 million annual alcohol-related deaths are the result of noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer (2).
  • 1.6 million deaths are attributed to insufficient physical activity each year (1).

Factors associated with metabolic risk

NCDs are caused by four key metabolic changes:

  • raised blood pressure;
  • overweight/obesity;
  • hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels); and
  • hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).

Globally, elevated blood pressure (which is responsible for 19% of deaths)(1) is the leading metabolic risk factor, followed by overweight, obesity, and blood glucose levels.

NCDs and the economy

Healthy dietary practices, and limited access to health services.

NCDs quickly drain household resources in low-resource settings. Exorbitant NCD costs, such as expensive treatment, combined with income loss, force millions into poverty each year and stifle development.

Prevention and control of NCDs

There is a target in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030.

The relationship between poverty and NCDs is strong. NCDs are predicted to hinder poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household health care costs. It is often the case that those who are vulnerable and socially disadvantaged are sicker and die sooner than people with higher social status, especially since they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhygienic living conditions

Focusing on reducing the risk factors associated with NCDs is important for controlling these diseases. There are low-cost solutions available to governments and other stakeholders to reduce modifiable risk factors. NCDs and their risk should be monitored for policy and priority guidance.

is essential that involves all sectors, such as health, finance, education, transportation, agriculture, and planning, in reducing the risk of NCDs and promoting interventions that prevent and control them.

It is critical to invest in better management of NCDs. The management of NCDs involves detecting, screening, and treating these diseases, and providing access to palliative care for those who need it. Through primary health care, high-impact NCD interventions can be delivered to strengthen early detection and timely treatment. There is evidence that such interventions are excellent economic investments, since if given early to patients, they reduce the need for more expensive treatment.

Countries with inadequate health insurance coverage are unlikely to offer universal access to essential NCD interventions. By 2025, the global target is to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 25%, and by 2030 the SDG target is to reduce premature mortality by one third.

Response from the WHO

According to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, NCDs pose a major threat to sustainable development. By 2030, Heads of State and Government committed to develop ambitious national responses in order to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by one-third (SDG target 3.4). WHO’s leadership role in promoting and monitoring global action against NCDs was reaffirmed at the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meetings on NCDs in 2011 and 2014. UNGA will convene a third High-Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018 in order to review progress and forge consensus on the path forward for the period 2018-2030.

WHO developed the Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, which includes nine global targets that will have the greatest impact on NCD mortality. This plan focuses on prevention and management of NCDs.

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