19 March 2023
It is well known that the Solomon islands suffers greatly from people suffering from diseases which are mostly preventable if only changes to lifestyle and habits would change.
The NRH is overwhelmed by patients suffering from a whole range of NCD related illnesses, including cancer, heart, liver and diabetes problems and the MHMS must, in my view, do more to make people much more aware of preventing NCDs.
- Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally.
- Each year, 17 million people die from a NCD before age 70; 86% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Of all NCD deaths, 77% are in low- and middle-income countries.
- Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes).
- These four groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths.
- Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD.
- Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors.
The main types of NCD are cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
NCDs disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries, where more than three quarters of global NCD deaths (31.4 million) occur.
People at risk
People of all age groups, regions and countries are affected by NCDs. These conditions are often associated with older age groups, but evidence shows that 17 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70 years. Of these premature deaths, 86% are estimated to occur in low- and middle-income countries. Children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to the risk factors contributing to NCDs, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the harmful use of alcohol.
These diseases are driven by forces that include rapid unplanned urbanization, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles and population ageing. Unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity may show up in people as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids and obesity. These are called metabolic risk factors and can lead to cardiovascular disease, the leading NCD in terms of premature deaths.
Modifiable behavioural risk factors
Modifiable behaviours, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol, all increase the risk of NCDs.
- Tobacco accounts for over 8 million deaths every year (including from the effects of exposure to second-hand smoke) (1).
- 1.8 million annual deaths have been attributed to excess salt/sodium intake (1).
- More than half of the 3 million annual deaths attributable to alcohol use are from NCDs, including cancer.
- 830 000 deaths annually can be attributed to insufficient physical activity (1).
Metabolic risk factors
Metabolic risk factors contribute to four key metabolic changes that increase the risk of NCDs:
- raised blood pressure;
- hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels); and
- hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).
In terms of attributable deaths, the leading metabolic risk factor globally is elevated blood pressure (to which 19% of global deaths are attributed) (1), followed by raised blood glucose and overweight and obesity.
NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing the probability of death from any of the four main NCDs between ages 30 and 70 years by one third by 2030.
Poverty is closely linked with NCDs. The rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care. Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people of higher social positions, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.
In low-resource settings, health-care costs for NCDs quickly drain household resources. The exorbitant costs of NCDs, including treatment, which is often lengthy and expensive, combined with loss of income, force millions of people into poverty annually and stifle development.
Prevention and control
An important way to control NCDs is to focus on reducing the risk factors associated with these diseases. Low-cost solutions exist for governments and other stakeholders to reduce the common modifiable risk factors. Monitoring progress and trends of NCDs and their risk is important for guiding policy and priorities.
To lessen the impact of NCDs on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach is needed requiring all sectors, including health, finance, transport, education, agriculture, planning and others, to collaborate to reduce the risks associated with NCDs, and to promote interventions to prevent and control them.
Investing in better management of NCDs is critical. Management of NCDs includes detecting, screening and treating these diseases, and providing access to palliative care for people in need. High impact essential NCD interventions can be delivered through a primary health care approach to strengthen early detection and timely treatment. Evidence shows such interventions are excellent economic investments because, if provided early to patients, they can reduce the need for more expensive treatment. Countries with inadequate health care coverage are unlikely to provide universal access to essential NCD interventions. NCD management interventions are essential for achieving the SDG target on NCDs.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized NCDs as a major challenge for sustainable development. As part of the Agenda, heads of state and government committed to develop ambitious national responses, by 2030, to reduce by one third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment (SDG target 3.4). WHO plays a key leadership role in the coordination and promotion of the global fight against NCDs and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals target 3.4.
In 2019, the World Health Assembly extended the WHO Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013–2020 to 2030 and called for the development of an Implementation Roadmap 2023 to 2030 to accelerate progress on preventing and controlling NCDs. The Roadmap supports actions to achieve a set of nine global targets with the greatest impact towards prevention and management of NCDs.
Source – WHO.