Chronic diseases are increasing in global prevalence and seriously threaten developing nations’ ability to improve the health of their populations. Indeed, chronic disease has become the dominant health burden in many developing countries. It is estimated that in 2005, chronic diseases were responsible for 50% of deaths and illness in 23 selected developing countries. Surveys from countries in all corners of the world reveal significant health and economic consequences from chronic diseases, with the greatest impact likely to occur in the poor countries that are least able to respond. In less than two decades, large numbers of people in developing countries have adopted the lifestyles of people in more economically and technologically advanced regions – with the result that they share many of the health problems of those countries. Rachel Nugent describes the growing burden of chronic non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries, and calls for multi-sectoral action to promote healthy lifestyle changes among all populations.
developing countries, chronic disease, non-communicable diseases, healthcare system