Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading global causes of death,
causing more deaths than all others causes combined, and they strike hardest at the world’s low- and
middle-income populations. These diseases have reached epidemic proportions, yet they could be significantly reduced, with millions of lives saved and untold suffering avoided, through reduction of their
risk factors, early detection and timely treatments. The Global status report on noncommunicable
diseases is the first worldwide report on the state of NCDs and ways to map the epidemic, reduce its
major risk factors and strengthen health care for people who already suffer from NCDs.
This report was prepared by the WHO Secretariat under Objective 6 of the
2008–2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. It focuses on the
current global status of NCDs and will be followed by another report to assess progress in 2013. One of
the main objectives of this report is to provide a baseline for countries on the current status of
NCDs and their risk factors, as well as the current state of progress countries are making to address these
diseases in terms of policies and plans, infrastructure, surveillance and population-wide and
individual interventions. It also disseminates a shared vision and road map for NCD prevention and control.
Target audiences include policy-makers, health officials, nongovernmental organizations,
academia, relevant non-health sectors, development agencies and civil society...Of the 57 million global
deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63%, were due to NCDs, principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. As
the impacts of NCDs increases, and as populations age, annual NCD deaths are projected to continue
to rise worldwide, and the greatest increase is expected to be seen in low- and middle-income regions.
While popular belief presumes that NCDs afflict mostly high-income
populations, the evidence tells a very different story. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths occur in low-and middle-income
countries and are the most frequent causes of death in most countries, except in Africa. Even in
African nations, NCDs are rising rapidly and are projected to almost equal communicable, maternal,
perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most common causes of death by 2020.
Mortality and morbidity data reveal the growing and disproportionate impact
of the epidemic in lower resource settings. Over 80% of cardiovascular and diabetes deaths, and almost 90% of
deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, occur in low- and middle-income
countries. More than two thirds of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. NCDs also
kill at a younger age in low- and middle-income countries, where 29% of NCD deaths occur among
people under the age of 60, compared to 13% in high-income countries. The estimated percentage
increase in cancer incidence by 2030, compared with 2008, will be greater in low- (82%) and
lower-middle-income countries (70%) compared with the upper-middle- (58%) and high-income countries