Causes of Non-Communicable Diseases

The Deteriorating Health of our Population (The Rise in NCD)

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TheWorldCounts, 10 May, 2015

The Deteriorating Health of our Population (The Rise in NCD)

NCDs or non-communicable diseases are those conditions that are usually not passed on from one affected person to others, but are caused as a direct result of lifestyle and environmental factors.

These include a host of different conditions including chronic lung diseases, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A disturbing trend in the last decade has been the consistent rise in NCDs on a global level. Particularly in regions that are more affluent, the number of people affected by chronic NCDs has been on a steep rise, forcing experts to alter long-harbored opinions about this class of diseases and trying to find ways to stem this tide.

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While wealth distribution might still have a role to play, the statistics show that currently, almost three-quarters of global NCD deaths arise from low or middle income countries, where the instances of NCDs are fast on the rise.

NCDs and the Mounting Problems

NCDs are long-term and chronic conditions that rob affected people of many productive years of their life, eventually resulting in debilitation and death in most cases. They are incurable conditions, and the only treatment available focuses on controlling the conditions and their symptoms.

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Globally, they account for most deaths due to disease, accounting for almost 68% of all death in a calendar year. These diseases have long been seen as a by-product of affluence, but that notion has changed due to recent events. There has been a steady rise in NCDs in low and middle income countries and currently, about 80% of NCD deaths occur in these countries and not affluent ones.

Statistically, if we take the top ten leading killing diseases in the world irrespective of income groups, six out of those ten are NCDs. This is not only a burden on a personal level, but also a national and global problem that needs to be quickly examined and sorted out.

Cases of NCDs are Spreading

Much has been made recently of the fact that NCDs are on the rise in 2nd and 3rd world countries. Various lifestyle and environmental factors all contribute heavily to the onset of NCDs and some of them are a direct product of the sluggishness on a global level, to promote measures that ensure a cleaner, healthier environment. We just can’t absorb the seriousness of the situation even though the signs are everywhere.

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What causes NCDs?

Lack of physical activity, causing health problems related to cardiovascular systems and metabolism, along with the development of certain kinds of cancer

Poor, unbalanced diets which fail to supply the proper nourishment and nutrients, with problems regarding salt, sugar and fat consumption contributing towards the development of NCDs

Abuse of tobacco and alcohol which leaves people vulnerable to a host of diseases including lung disease, metabolic disorders and cancer

Environmental factors resulting from unsustainable practices and emissions that influence bodily function and aid in the development if NCDs

What is the impact of our global population’s failing health?

The increase in chronic NCD cases is a global problem on many levels, and we can only expect it to escalate. With more and more people getting affected, our global productivity is also getting hit.

In spite of competent medical care, people affected by NCDs suffer the loss of valuable healthy years of their lives. The threat to life and the adverse effects it has on happiness on morale can also be particularly devastating.

The implications on the healthcare industry are also significant, with more and more healthcare costs emerging with increase in the NCD epidemic. In those countries where the environmental factors are at their worst and the options of treatment available are limited, the risk of death is by far the most significant.

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Certain countries are also plagued by contributing factors and situations which can aid the onset of NCDs. Some of the stark examples are:

  • The number of sedentary jobs has been increasing in the US for the last six decades, with only 25% of the workforce consisting of jobs which call for physical activity. This contributes to obesity and problems of metabolism, two of the root causes behind the onset of NCDs
  • In countries like China, increasing use of tobacco is showing a growing negative impact on health
  • In countries like India, medical costs incurred as a direct result of the healthcare involved in treating NCDs have resulted in steady loss of income for many people
  • The social and economic conditions in SEAR countries force people to use solid fuel for their cooking and heating needs, and the resultant pollution brings about disease and death to many

The only way to stop the further spread of NCD and improve global health, is to address the environmental issues facing our generation today.

Learn more about the latest environmental concerns on The World Counts Stories. See where you can make a difference.

References

  1. http://www.globalopportunitynetwork.org/risks/
  2. http://www.globalopportunitynetwork.org/resources/risks/chronic_rise_in_ncds.pdf
  3. http://blogs.plos.org/globalhealth/2015/01/rising-wealth-inequality-ncds-whats-link/
  4. http://www.ghd-net.org/sites/default/files/ChronicEmergencyWhyNCDsMatter.pdf
  5. http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report_full_en.pdf

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