Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Two. The urgent need for action

Chapter One. Chronic diseases: causes and health impact

Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment

Key messages

This part of the report reveals the extent of the chronic disease pandemic, its relationship to poverty, and its adverse impact on countries' macroeconomic development. A new global goal for reducing chronic disease death rates over the next 10 years is
also introduced.

  • Chronic disease risks and deaths are increasing rapidly, especially in low and middle income countries.
  • This growing threat is an underappreciated cause of poverty and hinders the macroeconomic development of many countries.

Face to face with chronic disease: cancer

This chapter tells the story of Sridhar Reddy who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Chennai Cancer Institute, India. Sridhar had a first malignant tumour removed from his right cheek last year and a second one from his throat earlier this year. His doctor doesn’t sound as optimistic. Cancer has spread to Sridhar’s lungs and liver.

What are chronic diseases

This chapter provides chronic disease terminology. The main chronic diseases discussed in this report are: cardiovascular diseases, mainly heart disease and stroke; cancer; chronic respiratory diseases; and diabetes. There are many other chronic conditions and diseases that contribute significantly to the burden of disease on individuals, families, societies and countries. Examples include mental disorders, vision and hearing impairment, oral diseases, bone and joint disorders, and genetic disorders.

Some will be presented as case studies in this publication to highlight the wide variety of chronic diseases that require continuing attention from all sectors of society. Mental and neurological disorders are important chronic conditions that share a unique set of distinguishing features, and which were reviewed recently by the World Health Organization.