Death and illness caused by noncommunicable diseases bring suffering and heartache to millions of people worldwide every year – those who live with the diseases, as well as their families and friends. 70% of all deaths worldwide result from NCDs. This should not be the case – much of the suffering and death from NCDs is preventable. We have known the solutions, the statistics, the injustice and urgent need for a very long time. We’ve had enough of waiting for meaningful action.
Governments failed to heed warnings in 2011, when the first High-Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs took place – and again at the second HLM on NCDs in 2014 – that NCDs were overtaking communicable diseases as the world’s greatest threat to health. As a result, the trajectory of death and disability from NCDs has remained unchanged and the world is off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs by one-third.
These unacceptable facts reflect governments’ inadequate attention, action and commitment to the fundamental right to health. As a result, we are calling on governments to move beyond rhetoric, and to commit to and deliver concrete and assertive action in 2018. The Enough campaign invites civil society, together with millions of people living with NCDs around the world, to join us in demanding that governments rise to the challenge, do the right thing and put people first. Now.
About noncommunicable diseases
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the most common cause of death and disability worldwide, accounting for 70% of all deaths. Nearly three-quarters of these deaths occur in developing countries, four out of five of them premature. Already a major threat to health and development in the 21st century, the prevalence of NCDs – and associated human suffering – is increasing exponentially.
The main NCDs include cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes in addition to a range of other diseases and conditions, including mental health disorders, neurological disorders (such as dementia), autoimmune and inflammatory disorders (such as psoriasis, lupus, and endometriosis), bone and joint conditions (such as osteoporosis and arthritis), renal, oral, eye and ear diseases, as well as injuries and disabilities.
Global NCD burden
- NCDs are the #1 cause of death and disability worldwide. Reducing the burden of NCDs – such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and mental and neurological disorders – is essential to ending poverty, reducing inequality, and improving health and wellbeing for all, in particular for the most vulnerable.
- As the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, NCDs are the urgent health and development challenge of the 21st century. 40 million deaths every year are attributable to NCDs. This is equivalent to more than ten times the number of deaths from HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
- Most alarmingly, 15 million of these deaths every year are premature, i.e. occur before the age of 70. These 15 million deaths are avoidable, and could be delayed or prevented.
- NCDs are increasing fastest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Three-quarters of deaths occur in LMICs. In absolute terms, deaths from NCDs in LMICs are projected to rise by over 50% by 2030, with the largest increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. And in LMICs NCDs impact people younger, during their most productive years, and with worse outcomes.
- As well as the human cost, NCDs have significant economic costs. These diseases will cause a cumulative economic loss of $47 trillion by 2030, a sum comparable to that required to eradicate $2 per day poverty over two decades. $21 trillion of this burden falls on LMICs alone. NCDs trap poor households in cycles of catastrophic expenditure due to out of pocket payments for NCD treatment.
Global trends and drivers
- The NCD epidemic is a symptom of a much larger global problem and trends – the result of demographic changes, urbanisation, economic development, globalisation and the global food system.
- Demographic changes, including ageing populations and longevity. In many ways NCDs are a side effect of success in global health over the last two decades, with people no longer dying from pneumonia, malaria and many other infectious diseases. They are living longer and developing diseases such as diabetes, cancer and other NCDs.
- Increasing levels of NCDs are also linked to urbanisation and sedentary lifestyles. Since 2011 and for the first time, more than half of earth’s inhabitants live in cities. This is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and play. There is a shift from working in fields to working in offices, a shift from walking or cycling to cars, for example.
- NCDs are also a result of the changing global food system. There has been a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised. There is now more cheap and accessible processed foods and energy dense food, and intense marketing and promotion of these unhealthy products by the major multinational food companies.
- With globalisation has come the dominance of multinational corporations, who are major drivers of NCDs and who profit from increased consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink (so called unhealthy commodities). For this reason, the concept of the “commercial determinants of health” has risen in prominence – “strategies and approaches used by the private sector to promote products and choices that are detrimental to health”.