from The Water's Edge

More on Noncommunicable Diseases

September 19, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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A nine-year-old girl has her blood pressure checked as she takes part in a research project on childhood obesity at a hospital in Hong Kong. Obesity, a disease linked with increased risks of asthma, heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, has become one of the biggest health threats facing many industrialised countries. Around 13 percent of Hong Kong children are classified as obese and doctors say it has been on the up since the early 1990s.
A nine-year-old girl has her blood pressure checked at a hospital in Hong Kong. (Bobby Yip/courtesy Reuters)

Last week I noted that the UN is holding its first ever High Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) starting today. The Wall Street Journal has a nice piece in today’s edition previewing the summit. It estimates that:

Noncommunicable diseases account for about 36 million deaths, or about 63% of total deaths world-wide, a year; nine million of those deaths occur in people under 60 years old. More than 80% of deaths from these diseases occur in developing countries, and the burden of chronic disease is growing rapidly in countries such as China and India, and even in African countries, which are also plagued by infectious diseases.

If chronic diseases continue to proliferate with no major campaigns or medical advances to stem them and the population continues to age and grow, the cumulative loss of output to the global economy could be $30 trillion by 2030, according to an analysis released Sunday by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health. If mental health costs were folded in, the overall loss to global output would total $46.7 trillion by 2030, the researchers projected.

That’s a pretty steep economic price to pay; hence, the desire to do something about NCDs.

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Diplomacy and International Institutions