Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Two. The urgent need for action

Chapter One. Chronic diseases: causes and health impact

Projections of future deaths

In this section, death projections for 2015 are presented for the world population, by country income group and for the nine selected countries. The projections are based on current country-level comparable estimates for 2002, and take into account expected changes in death rates associated with continued economic development, projected trends in HIV/AIDS and population ageing. For more information, see Annex 1. In general, deaths from chronic diseases are projected to increase between 2005 and 2015, while at the same time deaths from communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined are projected to decrease. The projected increase in the burden of chronic diseases worldwide is largely driven by population ageing, supplemented by the large numbers of people who are now exposed to chronic disease risk factors.

There will be a total of 64 million deaths in 2015:

  • 17 million people will die from communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined;
  • 41 million people will die from chronic diseases;
  • Cardiovascular diseases will remain the single leading cause of death, with an estimated 20 million people dying, mainly from heart disease and stroke;
  • Deaths from chronic diseases will increase by 17% between 2005 and 2015, from 35 million to 41 million.

Selected countries

Overall, death rates in the nine selected countries are projected to decrease for communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies. The exception is HIV/AIDS, for which substantial increases are projected to occur between 2005 and 2015 in all countries except Canada and the United Kingdom. In all countries except Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania, chronic diseases will be the leading cause of death in 2015.