n South African Medical Journal - SANHANES : a unique survey series in the health landscape : editorial




Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, represent a leading threat to human health and development. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, these four preventable diseases are the world's biggest killers, causing an estimated 35 million deaths each year - 60% of all deaths globally - with 80% in low- and middle-income countries. Up to 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by eliminating shared risk factors, mainly tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol. Unless addressed with urgency, the mortality and disease burden from these health problems will continue to increase. The WHO projects that, globally, NCD deaths will increase by 17% over the next 10 years, and the greatest increase will be seen in the African region (27%).


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