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Noncommunicable diseases kill 16 million every year, WHO sounds alarm in India

IndiaWorld Health Organization has drawn the urgent attention of the government to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which results in 16 million people dying prematurely, before the age of 70, from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

In an annual report, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said, “By investing just US$ 1-3 dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs. In 2015, every country needs to set national targets and implement cost-effective actions. If they do not, millions of lives will continue to be lost too soon.”

The report states that most premature NCD deaths are preventable. Of the 38 million lives lost to NCDs in 2012, 16 million or 42% were premature and avoidable – up from 14.6 million in 2000.

Nearly 5 years into the global effort to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025, the report says premature NCD deaths can be significantly reduced through awareness about reducing tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, and delivering universal health care.

In Brazil the NCD mortality rate is dropping 1.8% per year due to the expansion of primary health care, said WHO.

In low- and middle-income countries, deaths due to NCDs are overtaking those from infectious diseases and almost three quarters of all NCD deaths (28 million), and 82% of the 16 million premature deaths, occur in low- and middle-income countries, it said.

“Our world possesses the knowledge and resources to achieve the 9 global NCD targets by 2025,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “Falling short of the targets would be unacceptable. If we miss this opportunity to set national targets in 2015 and work towards attaining our promises in 2025, we will have failed to address one of the major challenges for development in the 21st century.”

The report provides “best buy” or high-impact interventions, including banning all forms of tobacco advertising, replacing trans fats with polyunsaturated fats, restricting or banning alcohol advertising, preventing heart attacks and strokes, promoting breastfeeding, implementing public awareness programmes on diet and physical activity, and preventing cervical cancer through screening.

WHO estimates the cost of reducing the global NCD burden is $11.2 billion a year, an annual investment of $1-3 per capita.

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