World health report

Conquering suffering, enriching humanity

Making a difference

This report examines chronic diseases, and the factors influencing them, throughout the entire human life span. At every stage, opportunities exist for prevention or treatment, for cure or for care. Major efforts have also been made, and continue to be made in these fields, in promoting healthy behaviour in individuals, in attacking risk factors, in promoting health as a component of social policies, and in protecting the environment through pollution control.

A key approach to the preparation of the report has been the recognition that the impact of disease on the individual is fundamental to improving health for the community.

The report considers aspects of noncommunicable diseases which are major causes of death or avoidable ill-health and disability - areas amenable to measures that have a direct and tangible effect on individual health, that make a difference, and make it sooner rather than later.

Chapter 1 of the report begins with a 1996 update of the global health situation. It then gives a brief description of leading noncommunicable diseases; estimates the global numbers affected by them; identifies risk factors that contribute to them; and explains the methods of prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. Together, these form a basis for reducing and conquering suffering and its social and economic burden on families and society, and thereby enriching humanity.