By Asmau Ahmad
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that globally, noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease now exceed infectious diseases as the top killers.
The WHO stated that NCDs cause nearly three-quarters of deaths worldwide, noting that every two seconds, someone under the age of 70 somewhere in the world dies of an NCD.
In a bid to tackle the burden of non-communicable diseases, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, launched a report urging leaders worldwide to take urgent action on NCDs, responsible for 17 million untimely deaths yearly.
He also announced the reappointment of the WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries, Michael R. Bloomberg.
The UN health agency said, “NCDs cause nearly three-quarters of deaths worldwide. Every year, 17 million people under the age of 70 die of NCDs, 86 per cent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.
“To accelerate action Dr. Tedros renewed the two-year appointment of Michael R. Bloomberg as WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries.
“To mark the occasion, WHO released a new report, ‘Invisible Numbers: The true scale of noncommunicable diseases’ and a ‘data portal’ that for the first time brings together all WHO data related to NCDs for 194 countries. The report and portal highlight the extent of global NCD burden, risk factors, and the progress each country is making in their efforts to combat these diseases and conditions.”
“Every two seconds, someone under 70 somewhere in the world dies of an NCD. Noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease now outnumber infectious diseases as the top killers globally.”
Dr. Tedros added saying, “This report is a reminder of the true scale of the threat posed by NCDs and their risk factors.
“There are cost-effective and globally applicable NCD interventions that every country, no matter its income level, can and should be using and benefitting from saving lives and saving money. I thank President Afuko-Addo, Prime Minister Støre and Michael Bloomberg for their leadership and vision in addressing this major global health issue.”
The WHO noted that the awareness of the general public regarding the links between NCDS and their risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, is low.
Bloomberg who is also the Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies said, “As we continue to respond to this pandemic and prepare for the next, we have seen the critical importance of addressing a major risk factor in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths – noncommunicable diseases.
“Noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and cancer are the world’s biggest silent killers – but they can often be prevented with investment in proven, cost-effective interventions. I look forward to continuing to make life-saving investments in NCD and injury prevention alongside Dr. Tedros and the WHO.”
As WHO Global Ambassador, the WHO said Bloomberg will continue to support global, national, and local efforts to protect people from NCDs and injuries.
“This work also advances the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3.4) target to reduce the global number of NCD deaths by one-third through high-impact, population-level policies and programmes implemented in cities across the world.
“While every Member State of the United Nations has committed to reducing premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030 – an effort that could save millions of lives – few countries are currently on track to achieve it.
“Urgent global efforts are needed to get back on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal targets and reduce premature deaths from NCDs,” the global health agency stated.