International health experts unveiled a master plan on Wednesday
that they said could avert at least 36 million premature deaths
worldwide from "lifestyle" diseases by 2015.
Without concerted efforts, they said, some 388 million people
around the globe -- 80 percent of them in poorer nations -- will
die over the next decade from non-communicable diseases that are
now reaching epidemic proportions.
Cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, lung disease and some
cancers together account for 44 percent of premature deaths, or
twice as many as from all infectious diseases combined, according
to World Health Organisation figures.
"Yet the prevention of disability and death from chronic
non-communicable diseases (CNDCs) gets scant attention," the
experts said jointly in a commentary, published in the British
Most of the diseases targeted by the initiative could be averted
by changing behaviour and access to known drug treatments, the
The top culprits are smoking, sedentary lifestyle and
Longer lifespans also play a role in some of the diseases, the
But 17 million of the deaths that could be averted through the
recommended measures would be among people under 70 years old.
Modeled on the Grand Challenges in Global Health programme
targeting infectious disease, spearheaded in 2003 by the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, the new "Grand Challenges" effort lists
20 policy and research priorities to reduce the death toll from
The recommendations include:
-- raising the "political priority" of CNCDs and promoting
-- strengthening regulations to discourage consumption of
tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods;
-- developing codes to monitor responsible conduct in the food,
beverage and restaurant industries;
-- studies that explore the links between CNCDs, poverty and
-- redistributing health care resources based on burden of
-- putting a big emphasis on prevention.
The initiative is supported by members of the Oxford Health
Alliance, including the UK Medical Research Council, the Indian
Council of Medical Research, and the U.S. National Institutes of
(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2007)