Cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases are the top four killers in the world, a new report has revealed.
Cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases are the top four killers in the world, a new report has revealed.

According to the new World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which was released on Friday (June 1) these non communicable diseases collectively kill 41 million people across the globe every year - accounting for 71% of all deaths globally.

About 15 million deaths affected those between the ages of 30 and 70 years. 

Following the report, which was also published simultaneously in the medical journal The Lancet, the WHO Independent High-level Commission on Non communicable Diseases (NCDs) now calls for urgent action to address chronic diseases and mental health disorders. It has also demanded high-level political commitment to address the epidemic of NCDs, including mental disorders and obesity. 

By calling on heads of state and government to take ultimate responsibility for NCDs, the report, acknowledges the need to ensure that health ministries have the influence they require to ensure the issue is backed with the political will and funding it merits. 

President of Uruguay, Dr Tabaré Vázquez,  called on world leaders to “redouble efforts” to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030 and to promote mental health and wellbeing.

 “Preserving and improving people’s quality of life is a way of enhancing human dignity in order to make progress in terms of economic growth, social justice and human coexistence,” said Dr Vázquez, who presented the report to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva today. “Health is essential for peace and democracy. It is not a matter of spending a lot, but of making good investments.” 

The Commission makes six recommendations in its report: 

Heads of State and Government should take responsibility for the NCD agenda, rather than delegating it to ministers of health alone, as it requires collaboration and cooperation across many sectors.

Governments should identify and implement a specific set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda, based on public health needs.

Governments should reorient health systems to include NCDs prevention and control and mental health services in their universal health coverage policies and plans.

Governments should increase effective regulation, appropriate engagement with the private sector, academia, civil society, and communities. 

Governments and the international community should develop a new economic paradigm for funding actions on NCDs and mental health.

Governments need to strengthen accountability to their citizens for action on NCDs and simplify existing international accountability mechanisms. 

Commission Co-chair Dr Sania Nishtar said the NCDs epidemic has exploded in low- and middle-income countries over the last two decades years. 

“We know the problem and we have the solutions, but unless we increase financing for NCDs, and demand all stakeholders be held responsible for delivering on their promises, we won’t be able to accelerate progress. We need to move quickly to save lives, prevent needless suffering, and keep fragile health systems from collapsing.”

Fulfilling the promise of universal health coverage, to ensure all people everywhere can access quality health services without suffering financial hardship, is one of WHO’s top priorities. The Commission’s report will help guide countries as they make progress toward health for all and tackle both NCDs and infectious killers.