The WHO on April 7 celebrated the founding of the organization in 1948 and World Health Day, “by focusing on aging, including a host of events, research and information under the theme, ‘Good health adds life to years,'” CNN reports (4/7). “Contrary to common perceptions, the WHO reports by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s older people will be living in low-and middle-income countries — not in the wealthier nations,” and “a new analysis shows the key reasons for ill health in older people are from non-communicable diseases,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 4/7).
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
The Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, which “brings together researchers, policy makers, funders and patient advocacy groups worldwide to focus research and expertise on this growing global health challenge,” was launched Wednesday at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, an LSHTM press release states. According to the press release, LSHTM Director Peter Piot “said: ‘The emerging epidemic of non-communicable diseases has potentially catastrophic consequences for global health. However, with co-ordinated intervention, we can successfully prevent and treat these diseases, saving millions of lives worldwide. This is a vital strategic priority, and we are working with our partners to establish this new center as a focus for research that can translate into effective action'” (4/25).
“Health systems, particularly in poorer countries, need to adapt to meet the chronic care needs of older people as the shift to aging populations gathers pace in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said” Wednesday in a briefing paper to mark World Health Day, observed on Saturday, the Guardian reports. The agency “points out that developing countries will have less time than wealthy nations to adapt to the challenges of an aging population — generally defined as people over 60,” the news service writes, adding, “By 2050, 80 percent of older people will live in low- and middle-income countries.”
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) on Monday released a summary of a workshop, titled “Country-Level Decision Making for Control of Chronic Diseases.” As part of a series of follow-up activities to the IOM’s 2010 report, “Promoting Cardiovascular Health in the Developing World,” the workshop “aimed to identify what is needed to create tools for country-led planning of effective, efficient, and equitable provision of programs to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases,” according to its website (4/2).
“Secretary Clinton’s inspiring piece on how the interests of the U.S. and India are aligned on issue after issue compelled me to articulate one more way in which the world’s two biggest democracies could pave the way for international co-operation. This is a remarkable opportunity for the U.S. and India to join together in addressing NCDs, chronic non-communicable diseases,” Nalini Saligram, founder and CEO of Aroyga World, writes in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog. She describes several initiatives underway to curb NCDs, including the mDiabetes text-messaging program being implemented by Aroyga World in India. Both the U.S. and India “have the bold leadership and technology advances needed [to tackle NCDs], and both countries consider the pursuit of healthy living a worthy aspiration and believe fully in the power of innovation,” she states (6/15).
The Economist’s “Graphic Detail” blog features an infographic depicting the probability of dying from a non-communicable disease, by country. “You are more likely to be killed by a non-communicable disease (NCD), like cancer or heart disease, than anything else,” the blog notes, adding, “In 2008 they accounted for 63 percent of the 56 million deaths worldwide” (6/1).
In this Bloomberg Businessweek opinion piece, Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation, examines the global obesity epidemic, writing, “It may seem strange to be worried about too much food when the United Nations suggests that, as the planet’s population continues to expand, about one billion people may still be undernourished,” but “[g]rowing obesity in poorer countries is a sign of a historic global tipping point.” He continues, “After millennia when the biggest food-related threat to humanity was the risk of having too little, the 21st century is one where the fear is having too much.”
“More people in developed countries are overweight or obese than ever before, dooming them to years of ill health, pushing up health care costs and piling more pressure on health systems, a report [.pdf] by the OECD found on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. Though the report found that obesity rates are diverse — “from a low of four percent in Japan and Korea to 30 percent or more in the United States and Mexico” – “in more than half of the 34 OECD countries, at least one in two people is now overweight or obese, and rates are projected to rise further,” according to the news agency.
This post in KPLU’s “Humanosphere” blog examines the “gap between the disease burden of mental illness and the amount of funding and attention devoted to solving the problem,” referencing a post published Friday in the Global Health Interest Forum’s “Blog of Scientists for Global Health,” written by Paul Southworth, a visiting scholar on malaria and vaccine science at the NIH. The blog provides a breakdown of the global burden of disease in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and notes, “As you can see from the pie chart, mental illness (aka ‘neuropsychiatric disorders’) is the biggest slice in the pie. Yet it is rarely even mentioned at global health meetings or confabs, says Southworth” (Paulson, 2/21).
A recently released OECD report (.pdf) “spells out the toll obesity can take on one’s health and on health care costs,” Indianapolis Star reporter Barb Berggoetz writes in this Star opinion piece, adding, “Obese people die on average eight to 10 years sooner than people at normal weight.” She notes that, according to the report, “[o]besity — responsible for between five to 10 percent of total health spending in the U.S. and one to three percent in most countries — will cause a rapid rise in health spending in coming years, as obesity related diseases set in.”