A case for non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Our focus at GHFI is on preventing and minimizing the risks of con-communicable diseases. Non-communicable diseases risk factors are:

  • Dietary changes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Reliance on automobile transport
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Urbanisation

The risk factors are mostly lifestyle-based and preventable, minimized and managed through primary health care and health promotion strategies. Interventions include nutrition, exercise, and no smoking and reduce alcohol as it affect the condition of our arteries and hearts.

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Globally, the rate of deaths from noncommunicable causes, such as heart disease, stroke, and injuries, is growing. At the same time, the number of deaths from infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and vaccine-preventable diseases, is decreasing.

According to the 2015 Global Burden of Disease Study, NCDs accounted for 71%, or 40 million, of the 56 million deaths globally in 2015. NCDs are now the leading cause of death in many low- and middle-income countries, with cardiovascular disease, cancers, respiratory disease, and diabetes accounting for the largest number of NCD-related deaths.

Many in the global health field believe that reducing the burden of NCDs is essential to ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality, and improving health and wellbeing. The World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan calls for health systems strengthening that can improve prevention, early detection, treatment, and sustained management of people with or at risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other NCDs. This systems strengthening must include the strengthening of primary care systems and the integration of NCDs into programs targeting other priority health issues, such as nutrition, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

Most developing countries are not prepared to deal with the rising rates of noncommunicable diseases that can come with age, poor diet, and better detection. One-third of adults over age 25 or about one billion people suffer from high blood pressure, the world’s number one cause of premature death and disability.

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