Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Two. The urgent need for action

Chapter One. Chronic diseases: causes and health impact

Chronic disease profiles

This section summarizes the impact of chronic diseases in different populations around the world. Detailed projections for 2005 are presented for males and females of all ages. The data presented are estimated by WHO using standard methods to maximize cross-country comparability; they are not necessarily the official statistics of Member States.

WHO has prepared updated projections of future trends for mortality and burden of disease between 2002 and 2015 using methods similar to those used in the original Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. A set of relatively simple models was used to project future health trends under various scenarios, based largely on projections of economic and social development, and using the historically observed relationships of these to cause-specific mortality rates. The data inputs for the projection models have been updated to take account of the greater number of countries reporting death registration data to WHO, particularly developing countries, and to take into account other recently developed projection models on HIV/AIDS and other conditions where appropriate, as well as tobacco epidemics. For more information on methods of projections for deaths and burden of disease, see Annex 1 Methods for projections of mortality and burden of disease to 2015.

Chronic diseases are projected to take the lives of 35 million people in 2005, which is double the estimate for all infectious diseases combined. Of these chronic disease deaths, 16 million will occur in people under 70 years of age, and 80% will occur in low and middle income countries. Approximately half of the chronic disease deaths occur in females.