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Healthy Caribbean Coalition - New WHO report reveals an ‘impending disaster’ caused by a rise in deaths from heart disease and other non-communicable diseases

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The World Heart Federation welcomes report recommendations for a ‘forceful response’ to the potential tragedy posed by non-communicable diseases, particularly in the developing world

Geneva, April 27, 2011 – The World Health Organization has today published a report on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease (CVD) which is the number one killer worldwide, and has described them as an ‘impending disaster’ for health, society and national economies.

The World Heart Federation, the leading global body dedicated to heart-health, welcomes the publication of the report and today issued the following statement: “The increasing burden of CVD, when cost-effective interventions exist, is unacceptable. Worldwide, CVD claims over 17.1 million lives and is projected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030. Although NCDs cause 63% of all global deaths, 80% of which occur in developing countries, the international community displays no sense of urgency or outrage about NCDs, the silent killer that is threatening development and economic progress. It is critical that NCDs are recognized as a development priority.

“Contrary to the public’s perception of NCDs as diseases of affluence, poverty plays a role both as a risk factor and as a consequence of NCDs. One-third of the poorest two quintiles in the developing world die prematurely from preventable NCDs, affecting all aspects of society from children to the elderly. The omission of NCDs from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets has been a critical barrier to securing donor funding for NCDs, depriving low-and middle-income governments of the financial and technical assistance needed to turn the NCD epidemic around. This must change.

“The World Heart Federation calls for a global response that places NCDs and therefore CVD, at the centre of development initiatives. This means giving prominence to disease prevention, recognition of the strong correlations between communicable (infectious) diseases and NCDs, and strengthening existing health systems which encourage early detection and multisectoral government approaches to public health. As the report suggests, a large proportion of people with high cardiovascular risk remain undiagnosed in low- and middle-income countries. Evidence and experience have demonstrated that if appropriate action is taken, countries can cost-effectively reverse negative trends.

“We therefore look forward to the United Nations High-Level Summit on Non-Communicable diseases this September where it is essential that world leaders make strong recommendations and commitments to the prevention and control of NCDs. This international commitment must be translated into measurable action that will halt and reverse the impending NCD disaster.”

All quotations are attributable to Dr Kathryn Taubert, Senior Science Officer, World Heart Federation.

For further information on the burden on non-communicable diseases, please visit www.worldheart.org

To access the WHO report, please visit http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report_full_en.pdf.

For media enquiries, please contact: Charanjit K. Jagait, PhD Director of Communications - World Heart Federation Tel: +41 (79) 625 32 96 Email: charanjit.jagait@worldheart.org .

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