For Southeast Asia Non-communicable Diseases Identified As Biggest Threat

by Rukmani Krishna on Sep 6 2013 7:51 PM

 For Southeast Asia Non-communicable Diseases Identified As Biggest Threat
The biggest threat facing Southeast Asia has been identified as non-communicable disease. Health ministers from the region will adopt targets to prevent and control these by 2025.
Health ministers from 11 countries will meet at the 66th session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Southeast Asia here next week.

The countries in the southeast Asian region include India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia and Maldives.

An estimated 7.9 million lives (55 percent of all deaths) are lost in the region due to these diseases, according to WHO.

Four major non-communicable diseases - cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes - together kill the largest number of people in the region.

These diseases share four behavioural risk factors which are tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and alcohol.

The increase in these diseases is attributed to ageing, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, negative effects of globalisation (such as trade and irresponsible marketing of unhealthy products), low literacy and poverty, WHO said.

Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for southeast Asia, said Thursday, "Non-communicable diseases exact a huge toll on national economies. They disproportionately affect poor, impoverished families and are a growing burden on health systems."

Renu Garg, WHO regional advisor for non-communicable diseases told the media: "Simple measures like reducing salt and sugar intake, exercising regularly and controlling alcohol consumption can go a long way in controlling non-communicable diseases."

One of the targets which the health ministers would adopt is providing a roadmap to achieve a 25 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 2025.

The targets include 10 percent reduction in alcohol consumption, halt in rise of obesity and diabetes and 50 percent reduction in households using solid fuels for household cooking.