Editorial comment – Shocking NCD stats

Small figurines are seen in front of displayed World Health Organization logo in this illustration taken February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration

It is shocking that every two seconds one person under the age of 70 loses his or her life to non-communicable diseases!

The World Health Organization, in a report titled Invisible numbers: The true extent of noncommunicable diseases and what to do about them stated major risk factors.

These included tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and air pollution which it insists could prevent or delay significant ill health and the large number of deaths from NCDs.

The report stated NCDs a­ffected all countries and regions, but the largest burden was on low and middle-income countries, accounting for 86 per cent of premature deaths.

“The COVID-19 pandemic took an especially heavy toll on people living with NCDs, highlighting how these diseases undermine the very foundations of good health,” the report stated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that protecting and promoting health is not only the domain of health ministers. In the same way as COVID-19, NCDs endanger lives, livelihoods and global development, which means that preventing and managing these diseases requires a concerted eff­ort, with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society response across countries and sectors.”

The chief NCDs, it noted, were cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases – along with mental health, causing nearly three-quarters of deaths in the world.

NCDs account for about 84 per cent of all deaths in Fiji.

The report also stated the chance of dying from NCDs was higher for those living in lower-income countries.

WHO said its new data portal showed there were 6038 total deaths caused by NCDs in Fiji and the probability of premature mortality from NCDs stood at 38 per cent.

The tragedy was that NCDs were often preventable, it pointed out, and millions of people could avoid years of poor health and live longer, healthier, happier lives within their families and communities.

“Most deaths from NCDs could be delayed or even prevented by eliminating risks to health,” the WHO report stated.

“These lead to biological risk factors — raised blood pressure (hypertension), overweight and obesity, raised blood glucose and raised cholesterol.”

Now that we are aware of the shocking results, we should be motivated to do the right thing.

That should mean factoring in a healthy diet, and exercising for a few minutes daily.

Our challenge though is to take that first step to a healthy and motivated lifestyle.

Now that’s going to be good for us individually.

Again, it is scary thinking about the fact that every two seconds one person under the age of 70 dies from NCDs!

That is serious business!

In fact it is in our best interest that we are aware, and actually doing something about it!

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