Non-communicable diseases now world’s biggest killers: WHO

May 21st, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by admin  

Geneva, May 21 (IANS) Non-communicable diseases like heart condition and stroke are gradually replacing diarrhoea, tuberculosis and infections as the chief killers globally, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The shifting health trends indicate that diseases such as diarrhoea, HIV, tuberculosis, neonatal infections and malaria will kill fewer people than non-communicable diseases globally over the next 20 years, WAM news agency quoted the report as saying.

“We are definitely seeing a trend towards fewer people dying of infectious diseases across the world,” said Ties Boerma, director of WHO’s Department of Health Statistics and Informatics.

“We tend to associate developing countries with infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. But in more and more countries the chief causes of death are non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and stroke,” Boerma said.

The report documents in detail mortality rate of children and adults, patterns of morbidity and disease, prevalence of risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, use of health care, availability of health care workers, and health care financing on data collected from 193 countries.

It also draws attention to important issues in global health, including maternal mortality in developed countries.

The report said 950 women out of every 100,000 die during child birth in sub-Saharan Africa while in the developing countries the figure stands at 450 for every 100,000 live births as compared to nine in the developed countries.

Life expectancy in Eastern Europe increased from an average of 64.2 years in 1950 to 67.8 years in 2005, representing an increase of only about four years compared with nine to 15 years for the rest of Europe.

Four out of 10 women and children in the developing world do not receive basic preventive and curative interventions and at current rates of progress it will take several decades before this gap is closed, the report said.

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