Despite the pandemic, a new report and portal released
by the World Health Organization (WHO) released this alert towards the end of
2022, based on data obtained from 194 countries on non-communicable diseases
and their risk factors: smoking, unhealthy eating, harmful use of alcohol, lack
of physical activity and air pollution. According to the experts, "Eliminating
these factors could prevent or delay significant health problems and many
For WHO, launching this initiative during the UN
General Assembly, was one of the greatest challenges of the century in health
and development. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory
diseases, along with mental health, cause nearly three-quarters of deaths
worldwide and kill 41 million people each year.
The report “Invisible numbers: the true extent of
noncommunicable diseases and what to do about them” gives visibility to these
pathologies and recalls “the true scale” of this threat and the risk factors.
This report also shows the cost-effectiveness of globally applicable
cost-effective interventions that can change these numbers and save lives and
The portal contains the latest data on each country,
risk factors and adopted policy, resulting in trends being made visible across
countries and allowing comparison across countries or within geographic
According to the WHO, every two seconds, a person
under the age of 70 dies from a NCD and 86% of these deaths occur in low- and
middle-income countries. “This major shift in public health over the last few
decades has gone largely unnoticed,” considers the organization.
“The report and the portal come at a critical time for
Public Health: in 2022, only a few countries were on track to meet the
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target: to reduce premature deaths from NCDs
by one-third by 2030”, refers the WHO.
Experts claim that prevention and treatment are an “excellent
investment opportunity, which will have a numerous impact on economic growth,
far outweighing the money spent”.
The report ends with some important conclusions:
Noncommunicable diseases are a
huge challenge, affecting economies, families and individuals in every region,
country and neighborhood of the world. But in many cases, their negative
impacts are not inevitable.
Action to prevent, track,
treat and manage NCDs is both affordable and achievable, with economic and
social repercussions far beyond health.
Not only would this mean
significant improvements in health outcomes, it would also improve financial
and social well-being, improve resilience to other diseases such as COVID-19 and
benefit many other development goals.
Tackling NCDs is not just about reaching a target. It is an opportunity for governments – for ministries of finance, education, the environment, equality, trade and health, among others – to unlock the many benefits of a healthier, happier and more productive society and to build resilience against COVID-19 and future pandemics.