The world health report

Chapter 1

Protecting the People

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This report deals with health risks, where risk is defined as a probability of an adverse outcome, or a factor that raises this probability. In order to protect people -- and help them protect themselves -- governments need to be able to assess risks and choose the most cost-effective and affordable interventions to prevent risks from occurring. Some risks have already been reduced, but changes in patterns of consumption, particularly of food, alcohol and tobacco, around the world are creating a "risk transition". Diseases such as cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are increasing in prominence. This trend is particularly serious for many low and middle income countries which are still dealing with the traditional problems of poverty, such as undernutrition and infectious diseases.