Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes – are the leading causes of death globally.
Despite common misconceptions, the burden of NCDs isn’t limited to wealthy or aging populations – in 2012, nearly three-quarters of NCD deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and almost half of those occurred in people younger than 70. These diseases typically progress slowly and often require costly long-term care, placing a huge burden on families, health systems and national economies.
Many NCD deaths are preventable. Eliminating major risk factors including tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful alcohol use and unhealthy diet could prevent approximately three-quarters of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, as well as 40% of cancer cases. But investment in low-cost and common-sense policy solutions is lacking, and many countries’ health systems aren’t equipped to handle the burden. By 2030, NCD deaths are projected to increase to 52 million per year (compared to 38 million in 2012), and their already high cost is expected to surge.
We help our clients advocate for stronger health systems that support access to preventive care and affordable medicines. We’ve also partnered with WHO China to launch a national social media campaign on the dangers of tobacco use – the single biggest preventable cause of NCDs – and organized a civil society campaign to stop cervical cancer.
Reducing the burden of NCDs will help millions more people lead long, healthy, and productive lives - and help the world achieve sustainable development.