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Technology & Innovation

Noncommunicable Disease Epidemic

The world is facing a growing avalanche of death from heart attack, stroke, cancer, emphysema and diabetes, with many of the victims working-age people in poor countries. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has brought attention to the worldwide epidemic of noncommunicable diseases in a report that highlights the role of income inequality in how diseases are diagnosed and treated. The report recommends policies governments can implement to encourage people to live healthier lives such as further regulating vices like tobacco and alcohol. According to the report, rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes are growing more rapidly in middle and low income countries than in rich ones.

What’s the Big Idea?

This week’s W.H.O. report on noncommunicable diseases disabuses the popular notion that that heart attacks, strokes and cancers are medical burdens shouldered by rich nations alone. “Noncommunicable diseases cause 36 million of 57 million deaths each year, or nearly two-thirds of global mortality… Most of the victims live in low- and middle-income countries.” Rather than recommend increased spending on healthcare services, the W.H.O. wants mainly to raise awareness among governments that noncommunicable diseases pose a threat to global health. 


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