South-East Asia bears NCDs brunt

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases, are the world’s most common, causing two out of every three deaths globally

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Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region

These diseases kill 8.5 million people annually in WHO's South-East Asia Region. Of these, 4.2 million deaths are considered premature. The region is home to a quarter of the world's population and a third of the world's poor, those most vulnerable to the negative economic impact of NCDs.

The macro-economic burden of NCDs in low-and middle-income countries is projected to be $7 trillion from 2011 to 2025. Wide-scale implementation of ‘Best Buy' interventions for prevention would cost a fraction of this.

"We are seeing that heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases now affect younger and younger people. Deaths from NCDs occur in the age group 30 - 70 years in our region and are considered premature. These diseases disproportionately affect the poor, robbing families of breadwinners and pushing them into a vicious cycle of poverty," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO South-East Asia Region.

"The millions of productive individuals lost prematurely to NCDs are seriously undermining social and economic development," she added.

Increased lifespan and changes in people's lifestyles are accelerating the increase in NCDs and their common risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity and harmful use of alcohol.
Globalization, trade liberalization, rapid unplanned urbanization, irresponsible marketing of junk foods, alcohol and tobacco, and increasing socioeconomic inequities are creating a milieu conducive to the rise in NCDs.

 

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