World health organization

2008 in review: key public health issues

A frail older man leans against a wall.
WHO/Chris De Bode

Rise of noncommunicable diseases

WHO collects and compares health data from across the globe to describe problems, identify trends and help decision-makers set priorities. The world health statistics 2008 reports a global shift from infectious diseases to noncommunicable diseases, with heart disease and stroke as primary killers. WHO's Global Disease Burden Project finds, among other trends, a rise of cancer and heart disease that is tied to an aging population.

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