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Chronic diseases overtaking infectious diseases, says WHO

Chronic conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, are overtaking infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria as the main causes of death across the world, according to new statistics published by the World Health Organization this week (May 2008).

Over the next 25 years the number of deaths attributed to non-communicable disease will rise significantly as the world’s population continues to live longer, the World Health Statistics 2008 report points out.

By 2030 the top four causes of death will be ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lower respiratory disease (mostly pneumonia), it predicts.

And although deaths from HIV are expected to rise to a peak in 2012 when the disease will be responsible for ending 2.4 million lives, the report estimates that the annual death toll will fall to 1.2 million by 2030.

By that same date chronic disease and death following a road traffic accident are expected to be responsible for around a third of all deaths in the world, the report based on 73 health indicators from WHO’s 193 member states reveals.

Meanwhile, the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva was told in May 2008 that soaring food prices, climate change and pandemic influenza are the key influences on global health in the future.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10014941

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