This figure represents one third of the global burden of disease, and is twice the number of deaths from all infectious diseases1, maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined. This situation is very serious – chronic disease affects not only public health, but society and the economy as well. Chronic disease is currently the most significant cause of death world-wide, and there is no indication that the rapid increase in incidence of chronic disease is likely to slow down in the near future. Every year, approximately 17 million people die prematurely due to chronic disease.
Furthermore, WHO have projected that death due to noncommunicable disease will increase from 61% in 2005 to 68% by 2030, while death due to communicable, perinatal and nutritional causes is likely to decrease from 30% in 2005 to 22% by 2030.
In 2005, cardiovascular disease accounted for approximately 30% (17.5 million) of deaths due to noncommunicable disease. Cancer accounted for 7.6 million and diabetes for 1.2 million deaths in the same year. Analysis of Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)2, the most widely used summary measure of the burden of disease, shows that nearly half of the global burden of disease is caused by noncommunicable diseases, compared with 13% by injuries and 39% by communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal, and nutritional deficiencies combined.
Contrary to commo…
WHO estimates that in 2005, 80% of deaths due to chronic disease occurred in low and middle countries. Nine nations were examined in detail: Brazil, Canada, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the Tanzanian Union Republic.
Their results indicate that the previously common belief that low and middle income countries should focus on controlling infectious diseases, while high income countries should focus on chronic, noncommunicable diseases, is a misleading one. In countries with low and moderate economic development, the causes of death by chronic disease are mainly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. However, the results of the WHO studies also suggest that low and middle income countries are now facing a more serious dilemma, in that these countries are experiencing increasing incidences of both chronic noncommunicable and infectious disease simultaneously, particularly in urban areas.
Chronic disease was once limited to the elderly. However WHO studies have shown that people in low and middle income countries begin suffering from chronic diseases with preventable complications sooner, and are dying earlier, than those in high income countries. According to WHO, at least half of the deaths due to chronic disease occur in people under 70 years of age, and around 25% in people under 60.
In China, chronic disease has begun to appear in significant proportions in young people as well as the elderly – 85% of cases of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer now affect those aged 14-64. The Chinese minister of disease control and prevention, Mr. Qi Xiao Qiu, has said that at present, the burden of disease in China is noncommunicable disease. Recent national reports suggest there are at least 160