The evidence is clear. Global development is currently pushing tobacco, unhealthy foods, alcohol and physical inactivity on poor communities across the globe. These risk factors are the leading causes of heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases - known together as chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It is a stark truth that NCDs pose a barrier to fair economic and social development in almost all countries. Exposure to these risk factors can begin in early childhood and even before birth. It is clear that NCDs are a matter of social justice.
The power of our voices united as one voice, can send a powerful message to our leaders that NCDs are unjust, and that the time for action is now.
Historically thought to be diseases of wealthy countries like the USA, NCDs are in fact a worldwide pandemic of devastating proportions. In 2005 alone there were an estimated 35 million NCD related deaths. Of these, 80% occurred in low and middle income countries (LMICs), twice as many deaths as from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Read more or take action right now.
The main causes of NCDs are tobacco use, eating foods high in saturated and trans fats, salt, and sugar (especially in sweetened drinks), physical inactivity, and too much alcohol. Exposure to these risk factors can begin early on, in childhood and even before birth. But the real drivers behind this pandemic are political. Poor families often live in communities where policies and legislation to prevent NCDs do not exist or are inadequate, creating a toxic environment in which people live, work and play. Unequal access to education and health care and the poor availability of nutritious foods make the problem worse. Read more or take action right now.
The consequences are profound and far-reaching. Consider this: in low and middle income countries it is often men and women in their most productive years (40‘s and 50‘s) who are most affected. On a personal level this is a tragedy for a family struggling for survival. At a society level this lost productivity further compounds the challenges of economic growth. For these reasons NCDs can contribute to poverty, trapping poor households in a cycle of debt and illness, and further increasing economic and social inequality. Read more or take action right now.
Tackling NCDs is about human rights, social justice and community empowerment. It is also about political leadership and implementing responsible government policies. From many countries there are success stories of dramatic victories over NCDs. Leaders in these countries have implemented comprehensive, integrated approaches that use prevention as their starting point. We have outlined a set of simple and cost-effective solutions. These include re-framing NCDs as a global development issue, focusing on the social determinants of health, and asserting the rights of the child. Read more or take action right now.
The power of our voices united as one voice, can send a powerful message to our leaders that NCDs are unjust, and that now is the time for action. The lives of millions of people around the world depend on how successful we are at getting the word out to each other and to our political leaders. We have outlined seven simple things you can do to take action.