GENEVA -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday urged governments worldwide to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with "bolder political actions" to save millions of people from premature deaths.
The NCDs, primarily cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes, are the world's biggest killers that claim the lives of 15 million people aged 30 to 70 annually, according to the latest WHO report, Non-Communicable Diseases Progress Monitor 2017.
However, the report finds that progress around the world has been uneven and insufficient in addressing the four main shared NCD risk factors, tobacco, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.
"Bolder political action is needed to address constraints in controlling NCDs, including the mobilization of domestic and external resources and safeguarding communities from interference by powerful economic operators," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls out.
The report provides data on 19 indicators in all WHO members, such as setting time-bound targets to reduce NCD deaths; developing government policies to address NCDs; and strengthening health systems through primary health care and universal health coverage.
Costa Rica and Iran lead the 10 best performing countries, each achieving 15 of the 19 indicators, followed by Brazil, Bulgaria, Turkey and Britain, each achieving 13 indicators, and Finland, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, each achieving 12.
The world is not on track to meet the target set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals of a one-third reduction in premature NCD deaths by 2030, concludes Dr. Douglas Bettcher, WHO director for the prevention of NCDs.
"The window of opportunity to save lives is closing," he adds. "If we don't take action now to protect people from NCDs, we will condemn today's and tomorrow's youth to lives of ill-health and reduced economic opportunities." (Xinhua)