Non-communicable diseases threaten southeast Asian economies: WHO

February 28th, 2011 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Non-communicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases cause three out of five deaths in southeast Asia, posing a serious public health threat and impeding development in the region, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday. “Non-communicable diseases pose a threat to the global economy and are impoverishing to both families and individuals,” said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s Regional Director for South-East Asia.

“These diseases are the major cause of poverty at the individual and household level,” said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s Regional Director for South-East Asia.

According to WHO, more than 22 percent of deaths worldwide due to non-communicable diseases occur in the 11 countries in WHO’s South-East Asia Region.

A third of these deaths are expected to be among middle-aged adults under the age of 60 years.

“Costly in terms of long-term care, they demand a type of social and financial investment that many countries will have difficulty making unless they quickly begin to re-prioritise their efforts and funding,” he added.

This epidemic of non-communicable diseases can be largely prevented through cost-effective public health measures.

WHO called for an urgent action to reverse the threat posed by non-communicable diseases.

“Raising the priority of non-communicable diseases in health and development plans has been one of the key priorities of WHO. Since these diseases are closely linked to poverty, they pose a serious public health threat to the region and also impede development,” he said.

“For instance in India, eliminating non-communicable diseases would increase the (gross domestic product) GDP by 4-10 percent according to the World Bank,” he added.

The UN General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting in September 2011 to galvanize action to halt premature deaths from non-communicable diseases.

WHO is organising a regional consultation for member states March 1-4 in Jakarta, Indonesia to prepare for the General Assembly meeting.

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