Monday, September 19, 2011

WHO targets non-communicable 'lifestyle' diseases

The World Health Organization has set out a plan to tackle non-communicable diseases like heart disease, which now pose a greater global burden than infectious diseases. "Lifestyle-related" diseases are now the leading cause of death worldwide, killing 36 million people a year. Much of the toll is in low and middle-income countries and this is where efforts must be focused, says WHO. It suggests affordable steps governments should take. The list includes measures that target the population as a whole, such as excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, smoke-free indoor workplaces and public places, as well as campaigns to reduce salt and dangerous fats in foods. Other tactics focus on individuals and include screening and treatment for cardiovascular disease and cervical cancer, as well as immunisation against hepatitis B to prevent liver cancer. WHO estimates the total cost for adopting these strategies in all low-and middle-income countries would be $11.4bn (£7.2bn) per year

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