Overview: Noncommunicable diseases


WHO estimates that deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are likely to increase globally by 17% over the next 10 years, and the Region will experience a 27% increase, that is 28 million additional deaths from these conditions which are projected to exceed deaths due to communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases combined by 2030.

In some African countries, such as Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles, NCDs cause over 50% of all reported adult deaths. This implies that NCDs will soon be a leading cause of ill health, disability and premature death in the Region, and will have an adverse impact on socioeconomic development.

The four main risk factors for major NCDs are

  1. tobacco use;
  2. physical inactivity;
  3. harmful use of alcohol;
  4. unhealthy diet.

These risk factors, acting singly or in combination, significantly contribute to common NCDs and related conditions.

The risk factors for NCDs that influence individuals, households and communities are driven by social and economic determinants that exist outside the domain of the health sector. These include poverty, globalization, trade, education, urbanization, climate change, employment conditions and gender disparities among others

Progress in implementing comprehensive NCDs strategies and policies has been hampered by fragmented, scarce and lack of resources. Scarce resources and lack of policies and strategies for controlling NCDs are key challenges in the Region.

Legislation will be a key element and all government departments, nongovernmental
organizations and the private sector should work together to strengthen the proposed organization of care for NCDs at the primary, secondary and tertiary health care level and ensure a comprehensive approach to the problem.

Noncommunicable disease country profiles (2014)

For more information please contact:

Dr Steven Shongwe
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