Non-communicable diseases are on the rise and account for nearly three quarters of annual deaths globally, with no clear signs that the trend will reverse anytime soon unless substantial investments are made and effective and immediate action is taken Yes, the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted on Friday.
The agency said that, if they continue at the same rate, chronic diseases will be a major threat to future generations and estimates that, if they do not change their trajectory, they will cause 86% of annual deaths.
In its annual World Health Statistics report, WHO provides an overview of key health problems and calls for action to highlight progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Impact of climate change
In addition to non-communicable diseases, the study highlights that climate change has an impact on the health of people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
It warns that climate change is rapidly degrading the environment and physical and mental health, posing enormous risks to all.
The document, prepared with data up to 2022, says that, although exposure to many health risks – such as tobacco or alcohol use, violence, unsafe water and poor sanitation – has decreased, progress has been insufficient and other risks , such as air pollution, are still present in people’s lives today.
In a section dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO points to the huge setback that has been inflicted in the race for development goals, with life years lost calculated at 336.8 million, with an average of 14.9 million for each additional 22 Year Deaths.
It details how the pandemic slowed progress on several health indicators and exacerbated inequalities in access to quality medical care, systematic immunization and financial protection for health expenses.
As a result, the report continues, there was a global disruption of primary health services, positive trends in the fight against diseases such as tuberculosis were reversed, and the number of people receiving treatment for neglected tropical diseases decreased.
The pandemic has also exposed and deepened vast disparities that exist between and within countries, including unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. Populations with lower educational levels living in low- and middle-income countries had more limited and delayed access to vaccination, and are still less likely to receive the vaccine today.
WHO stressed, “The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that infectious diseases can emerge or re-emerge and harm everyone.”
He noted that infectious conditions that were previously under control may arise as a result of antimicrobial resistance.
On the other hand, he emphasized the alarming incidence of obesity, a public health problem that is growing rapidly with no signs of slowing down in the near future and that leads to a rise in other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Far from universal health coverage
With regard to progress towards universal health coverage, the WHO reported that progress has been slower than that achieved by 2015, despite the fact that financial difficulties due to the cost of medical care remain.
The report, an annual review of the state of global health, concludes by calling for a substantial increase in investment in health and health systems “to return to the path of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.