Chronic diseases a global problem requiring global solutions, researchers say

September 15, 2010

Policymakers should increase their sense of urgency to stop the global spread of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes that threaten the health and economies of industrialized and developing nations alike, Emory University global health researchers say.

Writing in the current issue of The , authors K. M. Venkat Narayan, MD, Mohammed Ali, MBChB, MSc, and Jeffrey Koplan, MD, MPH, assert that the worldwide spread of chronic conditions, also known as noncommunicable diseases, offers a unique opportunity for low-, middle- and high-income countries around the globe to unite in their efforts to find tangible solutions for reducing the health and economic burdens of these diseases.

account for 60 percent of all deaths worldwide. Trends also suggest that the major risk factors for these diseases - hypertension, high glucose levels, obesity, and inactivity - are all on the rise, especially in developing countries. Six out of the 10 risk factors for mortality worldwide are related to chronic noncommunicable diseases, and not infections or lack of nutrition, as was previously the case.

In addition to the health consequences, the long-term costs of treatment of chronic ailments and the negative effects on productivity take devastating tolls on the economic situations of individuals, families and countries. According to estimates, China, India and Britain will lose $558 billion, $237 billion, and $33 billion, respectively, in national income over the next decade as a result of largely preventable heart disease, strokes and diabetes. In the U.S., cardiovascular disease and diabetes together cost the country $750 billion annually.

"There is a unique opportunity now for global cooperation to tackle noncommunicable diseases," says Narayan, professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and professor of medicine in the Emory School of Medicine. "In fact, unless noncommunicable diseases are tackled, goals relating to child health and infectious diseases cannot be achieved nor can economic development be sustained."

Narayan and his co-authors also cite examples of how global cooperation and connections have benefited the movement to reduce chronic disease, including the development and testing of a new screening test for cervical cancer in India that could result in a lower cost screening test for millions of women worldwide.

More information: The Perspectives article, "Global Noncommunicable Diseases - Where Worlds Meet," was published in the Sept. 15 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine and is available at www.nejm.org

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.