Chronic diseases and health promotion

Integrated chronic disease prevention and control


Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Disease rates from these conditions are accelerating globally, advancing across every region and pervading all socioeconomic classes. The World Health Report 2002: Reducing risks, promoting healthy life, indicates that the mortality, morbidity and disability attributed to the major chronic diseases currently account for almost 60% of all deaths and 43% of the global burden of disease. By 2020 their contribution is expected to rise to 73% of all deaths and 60% of the global burden of disease. Moreover, 79% of the deaths attributed to these diseases occur in the developing countries. Four of the most prominent chronic diseases – cardiovascular diseases (CVD), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes – are linked by common and preventable biological risk factors, notably high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and overweight, and by related major behavioural risk factors: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Action to prevent these major chronic diseases should focus on controlling these and other key risk factors in a well-integrated manner.

Development of an integrated approach that will target all major common risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes mellitus (DM), cancer and chronic respiratory diseases is the most cost-effective way to prevent and control them. An integrated approach responds not only to the need of intervention on major common risk factors with the aim of reducing premature mortality and morbidity of chronic noncommunicable diseases, but also the need to integrate primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, health promotion, and related programmes across sectors and different disciplines.

The objectives of Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Programme are:

  • to strengthen prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases by tackling the major risk factors, focusing on WHO’s four priority noncommunicable diseases - cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, and underlying determinants of health;
  • to reduce premature mortality and morbidity, and
  • to improve quality of life, with particular focus on developing countries, working through the Global Forum and the regional networks in line with the global strategy approved by the 53rd World Health Assembly.

The areas of work of the WHO Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Programme (ICP), which is one of the technical programmes within the Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion (CHP), include:

  • to raise awareness for chronic noncommunicable diseases and ensure that chronic noncommunicable disease prevention is included in and placed on top of the agenda of health care policies;
  • to promote development and implementation of national policy & strategy, programmes, community-based demonstration projects for prevention and control of chronic diseases with a special focus on developing countries;
  • to promote the development of regional networks of national chronic noncommunicable disease prevention programmes;
  • to promote collaboration and coordination of chronic noncommunicable disease prevention and control activities within and among WHO Regions;
  • to link regional networks and international partners with the Global Forum to promote collaboration for chronic noncommunicable disease prevention and control;
  • to encourage the dissemination of scientific knowledge, experiences and best practices;
  • to develop guidance packages for chronic noncommunicable disease prevention and control;
  • and to stimulate training and capacity building.