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Reducing Chronic Diseases Must Be a Global Priority

Chronic diseases are universal. They affect the young and the elderly, the rich and the poor, and every ethnic group. They impact entire communities and entire nations, and they cost millions of dollars in lost productivity and care.

Populations in developing countries are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases, with more individuals developing chronic diseases at younger ages than those in higher income countries. Chronic diseases account for around 60 percent of all deaths globally, and 80 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The impact of chronic diseases is rapidly growing among populations in developing countries, where, without action, deaths due to chronic diseases are expected to continue to increase substantially. With action, however, 36 million premature deaths worldwide could be averted by 2015, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with nearly half prevented in people under 70 years old.

Scientific investments in chronic disease research, care, and translation in developing countries are essential to reducing the global burden of chronic diseases.


More than 35 million people worldwide die from chronic noncommunicable diseases — especially heart disease and stroke, diabetes, lung diseases, and cancer — twice the number of deaths from infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined.

Last Updated: August 27, 2012

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