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Saturday 29th October 2016

Warning over chronic diseases

4th December 2007

Chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes are a major threat to public health in rich and poorer countries alike, international health experts have warned.


Both developed and developing countries must recognise the threat of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), including cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), chronic respiratory diseases, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Experts writing in a paper published in the journal Nature said such diseases are responsible for 60% of deaths worldwide.

And 80% of those deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

The WHO estimates that over the next ten years China and India will lose US$558 billion and US$237 billion, respectively, in national income as a result of these diseases.

Stig Pramming, executive director of the UK-based Oxford Health Alliance, said the economic impact of chronic diseases around the world was enormous.

Developing countries that were still struggling to create a healthcare system were being hit by a double burden of chronic disease, and infectious diseases, he said.

Experts have identified the 20 most important measures needed to prevent and treat CNCDs today, based on the opinions of leading health scientists and organisations.

They include goal-setting to assign research priorities, developing research activities for health that link with government departments, and developing new ways of diagnosing chronic disease in the early stages.

It also highlighted the need to investigate the biological basis of poverty-related health risks.

The Oxford Health Alliance will oversee an initiative to oversee CNCDs research efforts between organisations.

The paper's lead author, Abdallah Daar, of the Canada-based McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, said the consensus forms a 'road map' for policymakers and researchers.

He said chronic diseases were often preventable by very simple measures at an individual level, but such approaches got lost at the level of government policy-making and interventions.

He advocated a change in focus to prevention rather than treatment.

Nirmal Ganguly, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — one of the partnership's founding members — said most of the council's efforts were currently going into preventative measures, including funding a health advocacy programme and establishing a large community walking project in Hyderabad. 


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