We tend to pay more attention to contagious diseases like COVID, tuberculosis and AIDS, which infect tens of millions of people annually and kill millions. But noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) take far more lives each year.
For example, cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke; cancer; diabetes; chronic respiratory diseases; and mental illness cause nearly three-quarters of deaths in the world, killing 41 million people annually.
Every year, 17 million people under age 70 die of NCDs, 86 percent of whom live in low- or middle-income countries.
The good news is that most NCDs are linked to preventable risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and air pollution. It’s estimated that interventions known to work could avert at least 39 million NCD deaths.