Chronic diseases and health promotion

Overview - Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment

WHO global report

Key messages

This report shows that the impact of chronic diseases in many low and middle income countries is steadily growing. It is vital that the increasing importance of chronic disease is anticipated, understood and acted upon urgently. This requires a new approach by national leaders who are in a position to strengthen chronic disease prevention and control efforts, and by the international public health community. It is essential to communicate the latest and most accurate knowledge and information to front-line health professionals and the public at large.

The problem

  • 80% of chronic disease deaths occur in low and middle income countries and these deaths occur in equal numbers among men and women
  • The threat is growing – the number of people, families and communities afflicted is increasing
  • This growing threat is an under-appreciated cause of poverty and hinders the economic development of many countries

The solution

  • The chronic disease threat can be overcome using existing knowledge
  • The solutions are effective – and highly cost-effective
  • Comprehensive and integrated action at country level, led by governments, is the means to achieve success

The goal

How will we ensure a healthy future for children like Luciano dos Santos, who suffers from hearing loss, and others facing chronic diseases?
  • An additional 2% reduction in chronic disease death rates worldwide, per year, over the next 10 years
  • This will prevent 36 million premature deaths by 2015
  • The scientific knowledge to achieve this goal already exists
10 widespread misunderstandings about chronic disease - and the reality

Ten of the most common misunderstandings and two principal half-truths that have contributed to the neglect of chronic disease are presented in this report. Notions that chronic diseases are a distant threat and are less important and serious than some infectious diseases can be dispelled by the strongest evidence.

Face to face with chronic disease

This chapter presents stories of people from different countries living with chronic diseases and common underlying risks. In a world where more and more people are dying as a result of chronic diseases, and many more millions are disabled, these stories aim to demonstrate the strong and personal impact of chronic diseases on individuals and their families.