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Cancer, diabetes, lung, heart diseases kill 41m yearly, says WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that collectively, cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases kill 41 million yearly, accounting for 71 per cent of all deaths globally, 15 million of which occur between the age of 30 and 70.

A new report from WHO Independent High-level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), released yesterday and published in the medical journal The Lancet, urged urgent action to address chronic diseases and mental health disorders. It demands high-level political commitment and immediate scaling up of actions to address the epidemic of NCDs, the world’s leading causes of death and ill-health.

According to the WHO, “NCDs, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and mental disorders, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a NCD. Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs. WHO also recognises that air pollution is a critical risk factor for NCDs.”

The commission makes six recommendations in its report, which include:
• Heads of State and Government should take responsibility for the NCD agenda, rather than delegating it to ministers of health alone, as it requires collaboration and co-operation across many sectors,
• Governments should identify and implement a specific set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda, based on public health needs, among others.

Also, it warned that plastic packaging, disposable cups and rubber contain a chemical, which probably gives people cancer. Meanwhile, the WHO Commission Co-chair, Dr. Sania Nishtar, said: “We know the problem and we have the solutions, but unless we increase financing for NCDs, and demand all stakeholders be held responsible for delivering on their promises, we won’t be able to accelerate progress.

Also, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “WHO was founded 70 years ago on the conviction that health is a human right to be enjoyed by all people, and not a privilege for the few. The recommendations of this report are an important step towards realising that right by preventing the suffering and death caused by NCDs.”

President of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, who called on world leaders to “redouble efforts” to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030 and to promote mental health and well-being, said: “Preserving and improving people’s quality of life is a way of enhancing human dignity to make progress in terms of economic growth, social justice and human co-existence.”


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