In September of 2011, the United Nations convened a high-level summit to address the problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) during a two-day event in New York. NCDs will cost the global economy $47-trillion (U.S.) over the next 20 years, according to a new study commissioned by the World Economic Forum.
Included in the NCDs are five chronic conditions – cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease and respiratory illness; the “big five” kill 36 million people a year (of the 57 million deaths in total). It is expected that by 2030, NCDs will claim 52 million or 80 per cent of all deaths. However mortality is only part of the challenge; it is also forecast that hundreds of millions of other people are living with disabling chronic illnesses that often leave them unable to work and participate fully in society, and that number will continue to increase.
In countries such as Canada, NCDs are becoming more common and fatal because of lifestyle factors such as poor diet, sedentary behaviour, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
In the developing world, where there is still a significant amount of deadly disease spread through unclean water and lack of sanitation, NCD’s are rising at an alarming rate because of a combination of lifestyle, environmental threats and poor access to basic care.
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