21 June 2011

Non-communicable disease: a global crisis ?


Very interesting graph, showing that in all countries non-communicable diseases are a significant cause of early deaths and only in low income countries do communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional disorders cause more early deaths.

A recent paper in The Lancet argues the following:

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), principally heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, are a global crisis and require a global response.

Despite the threat to human development, and the availability of affordable, cost-effective, and feasible interventions, most countries, development agencies, and foundations neglect the crisis. 

The UN High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on NCDs in September, 2011, is an opportunity to stimulate a coordinated global response to NCDs that is commensurate with their health and economic burdens. To achieve the promise of the UN HLM, several questions must be addressed. 

This report, presents the realities of the situation by answering four questions: 
  • is there really a global crisis of NCDs ?
  • how is NCD a development issue ?
  • are affordable & cost-effective interventions available ?
  • do we need high-level leadership & accountability ?

Action against NCDs will support other global health and development priorities. A successful outcome of the UN HLM depends on the heads of states and governments attending the meeting, and endorsing and implementing the commitments to action. Long-term success requires inspired and committed national and international leadership.

The most cost-effective interventions are:
  • tobacco control
  • salt reduction
  • low-cost generic drugs for people at high risk of a heart attack or stroke
These three interventions, if widely adopted, would prevent 23 million deaths over 10 years in 23 low-income and middle-income countries with a high burden of NCDs at a cost of $1·20—2·40 per person per year.

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