Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are no longer just a problem in wealthy nations – the rate of NCDs in low-to-middle income countries are increasing faster than in developed countries.
This major public health issue was the focus of the Director's Seminar presented by Professor Rob Moodie from the University of Melbourne's School of Population Health.
"Globally 14.2 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 die each year prematurely from diseases which are preventable. Risk factors for these diseases include tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity," Professor Moodie told a packed audience at Burnet.
"There is a common view that only people in wealthy nations die from NCDs but it is a new epidemic in low-to-middle income countries that needs to be addressed."
Professor Moodie said it was particularly concerning to be told recently by a surgeon at a hospital in Fiji that he was amputating one leg a day from patients suffering sepsis related to diabetes.
"Seven trillion dollars of lost output in developed countries is attributable to NCDs," he said.
"We need to start looking at these new epidemics as they are major global problems that should have our attention."