Introduction to Non Communicable Diseases

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Today, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), mainly
cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory
diseases and diabetes represent a leading threat to human
health and development. These four diseases are the
world’s biggest killers, causing an estimated 35 million
deaths each year - 60% of all deaths globally - with 80%
in low- and middle-income countries.
These diseases are preventable. Up to 80% of heart
disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over a third of
cancers could be prevented by eliminating shared risk
factors, mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical
inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.
Unless addressed, the mortality and disease burden from
these health problems will continue to increase. WHO
projects that, globally, NCD deaths will increase by 17%
over the next ten years. The greatest increase will be seen
in the African region (27%) and the Eastern Mediterranean
region (25%). The highest absolute number of deaths will
occur in the Western Pacifi c and South-East Asia regions.
We have the right vision and knowledge to address
these problems. Proven cost-effective strategies exist
to prevent and control this growing burden. However,
high-level commitment and concrete action are often
missing at the national level. NCD prevention and
control programmes remain dramatically under-funded
at the national and global levels and have been left off
the global development agenda. Despite impacting
the poorest people in low-income parts of the world
and imposing a heavy burden on socioeconomic
development, NCD prevention is currently absent from
the Millennium Development Goals. However, in all lowand
middle-income countries and by any measure, NCDs
account for a large enough share of the disease burden
of the poor to merit a serious policy response.
Working closely with Member States, WHO has,
therefore, developed this Action Plan to prevent NCDs
from occurring and to help the millions who are already...