WHO: Millions Die Prematurely From Non-Communicable Diseases

Monday, January 19, 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) said 16 million people under the age of 70 are dying prematurely every year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). A new report is calling for action to reduce these largely preventable deaths.

Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 63 percent of all yearly deaths. WHO reports millions of people are dying prematurely from four major types of illnesses – heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

WHO cites tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity as the four major risk factors and notes embracing healthier life styles can significantly reduce these premature deaths.

The lead author of the report, Shanthi Mendis, is WHO’s coordinator for chronic diseases prevention and management. She called non-communicable diseases a slow motion public health disaster.

“We are losing 16 million people every year in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, not in their 80s and 90s. And, we are losing 38 million from NCDs overall every year… Out of the 16 million people who die under the age of 70, who are in their productive years, 82 percent are in low and middle income countries, which do not have the capacity to really address them,” said Mendis.

In 2013, the World Health Assembly approved a “global action plan” that aims to reduce the number of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one quarter by 2025. The plan includes nine voluntary global targets to tackle key risk factors.

Source: Voice of America (link opens in a new window)

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