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Global premature death targets missed

Friday September 21st, 2018

Most of the world's nations – including the UK, USA and China – are likely to fall short of the United Nations target for reducing the number of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), according to a report out today.

The findings of the most detailed global analysis of deaths from NCDs shows that people in the UK, US and China have a higher risk of dying early from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke than those in Italy, France, South Korea and Australia.

One in 10 countries have seen death rates stagnate or worsen. In the USA, NCD rates for women have stagnated, with almost one in eight 30-year-old women dying from one of the four NCDS before their 70th birthday, compared with one in 20 women in South Korea, the best performing country.

The research by NCD Countdown 2030, led by Imperial College London, World Health Organisation (WHO) and NCD Alliance, shows that cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes were responsible for 12.5 million deaths among people aged 30-70 years worldwide in 2016.

The analysis, published in The Lancet, shows that a 30-year-old woman in the UK has a 9% chance of dying from four key NCDs – cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes – before her 70th birthday. This compares with a 12% chance for a woman living in the US, and 6% for a woman living in Japan.

A 30-year-old man living in the UK has a 13% chance of dying from an NCD before age 70 compared with 11% for a man living in Switzerland and 18% for a man living in the US, according to the analysis.

Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s School of Public Health, who led the study, said: “Non-communicable diseases are the main cause of premature death for most countries. Poverty, uncontrolled marketing of alcohol and tobacco by multinational industries, and weak health care systems are making chronic diseases a larger danger to human health than traditional foes such as bacteria and viruses.”

The research, which analysed data on deaths from NCDs for more than 180 nations, is published ahead of a key UN meeting on NCDs next week and warns that the UN target will be missed in all but 35 nations for women and 30 nations for men.

The lowest risks of dying early from NCDs were in high income countries, especially in South Korea, Japan, Switzerland and Australia, but other high-income countries are lagging behind the leaders, including the UK (which ranks 17th for men, 27th for women), the US (53rd for men, 44th for women) and China (80th for men, 76th for women).

Overall, women in South Korea, Japan, Spain and Switzerland were least likely to die prematurely from the four key NCDs. The countries with the lowest risk for men were Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.

Professor Ezzati said: “While much of the world is falling short of the UN target to alleviate the burden of chronic diseases, dozens of countries could meet this goal with modest acceleration of already-favourable trends. This requires national governments and international donors to invest in the right set of policies.

“Treatment of hypertension and controlling tobacco and alcohol use alone can prevent millions of deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke and other NCDs. But there is also a need for affordable high-quality care to diagnose and treat chronic diseases as early as possible.”

NCD Countdown 2030: worldwide trends in non-communicable disease mortality and progress towards Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4. The Lancet 20 September 2018.

Tags: Asia | Australia | Cancer | Diabetes | Europe | Heart Health | North America | UK News | World Health

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