Each year, seven in 10 deaths globally are from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mostly from tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The Organisation disclosed this while launching the Independent Global High-level Commission on NCDs, adding that bold and innovative solutions were now on the table to accelerate the prevention and control of deadly NCDs.
It further said that such non-communicable were heart and lung disease, cancers and diabetes, explainign that a new high-level commission was getting set to begin its work.
According to the President of Uruguay and co-chair of new WHO high-profile panel, Tabare Vazquez, “NCDs are the world’s leading avoidable killers. But the world is not doing enough to prevent and control them. We have to ask ourselves if we want to condemn future generations to dying too young and living lives of ill health and lost opportunity.
“The answer clearly is ‘no’. But there is so much we can do to safeguard and care for people. This is from protecting everyone from tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, to giving people the health services they need to stop NCDs in their tracks.”
While saying that more than 15 million people between 30 and 70 years old died annually from NCDs, WHO added that low- and lower-middle income countries were increasingly affected – with half of premature deaths from NCDs occurring in those countries.
WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Commission member, Michael Bloomberg said: “For the first time in history, more people are dying of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, than infectious diseases. This loss of human life spares no one –rich or poor, young or old – and it imposes heavy economic costs on nations.”
He said that many lives could be saved from NCDs through early diagnosis and improved access to quality and affordable treatment, as well as a whole-of-government approach to reduce the main risk factors.
“The more public support we can build for government policies that are proven to save lives – as this Commission will work to do – the more progress we’ll be able to make around the world,” Bloomberg added.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “Everybody deserves the right to a healthy life. We can beat the drivers of the NCD epidemic, which are among the world’s main obstacles to health.”
Former Federal Minister of Pakistan and co-chair of the NCDs commission, Dr Sania Nishtar argued that while there had been improvements in some countries and regions, the overall rate of progress has been unacceptably slow.
She said the situation was “resulting in too many people suffering and dying needlessly from NCDs, and leaving families, communities and governments to bear the human and economic costs,” adding that “this year, governments will be held to account on progress they have made in protecting their citizens from NCDs.”