Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (i.e. heart attacks and stroke); cancers; chronic respiratory diseases (i.e. chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma); and diabetes.
NCDs disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries where nearly 80% of NCD deaths (29 million) occur. They are the leading causes of death in all regions except Africa, but current projections indicate that the largest increases in NCD deaths will occur in Africa by 2020. In Africa, deaths from NCDs are projected to become the most common causes of death by 2030, exceeding the deaths of communicable and nutritional diseases and maternal and perinatal deaths combined.
- NCDs kill more than 36 million people each year.
- Nearly 80% of NCD deaths (29 million) occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- More than nine million of all deaths attributed to NCDs occur before the age of 60; 90% of these “premature” deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
- Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.3 million people annually, followed by cancers (7.6 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.2 million), and diabetes (1.3 million).
- These four groups of diseases account for around 80% of all NCD deaths.
- NCD deaths share four risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets.
Prevention and Control of NCDs
- To lessen the impact of NCDs on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach and a collaborative effort is needed where all stakeholders (such as public, community providers, academic institutions, patients, government, policy makers, medical professionals, international agencies, etc.) will work together to reduce the risks associated with NCDs, as well as promote the interventions to prevent and control them.
- An important way to reduce NCDs is to focus on lessening the risk factors associated with these diseases. Low-cost solutions exist to reduce the common modifiable risk factors (mainly tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets) and map the epidemic of NCDs and their risk factors.
- Other ways to reduce NCDs are high impact essential NCD interventions that can be delivered through a primary health care approach to promote wellness and strengthen early detection and timely treatment. Evidence shows that such interventions are excellent economic investments because, if applied to patients early, it can reduce the need for more expensive treatment.
- The greatest impact can be achieved by creating public policies that promote NCD prevention and control and reorienting health systems to address the needs of people with such diseases.
Source/Reference: World Health Organization (WHO)