|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 07, No. 3 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1995, 16 pages)|
Most of the chronic, degenerative noncommunicable diseases are diseases of the second half of human life, and they are becoming more and more common as people live longer among both developed and developing nations. Decreasing incidences of death from one cause means increasing deaths from some other cause.
The most important of the noncommunicable diseases are the cardiovascular diseases, since the total number of sufferers in both developed and developing nations is higher than the total number for communicable diseases. A close second place is held by the different malignancies generally grouped under the heading "cancer," followed by the noncommunicable respiratory diseases, diabetes, and some other conditions including hereditary ailments and mental arid neurological diseases.
Traditionally, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and hereditary diseases are grouped under a single heading, not only because they are caused by agents of a chemical and physical nature, which influence the hereditary system or the body's metabolism. Certain cancer groups are produced by biological factors like viruses, as well as by chronic infection and physical conditions that cause a cytotoxic process when they interfere with a cell's genetic mechanism. The latter is currently under extensive scientific investigation as a result of the contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
A second group of conditions acts at the level of cell regulation, and produces the milieu in which the cancer cells begin to multiply. There are also hereditary conditions that produce a physical predisposition to a cancer's development. Although some have categorized such ailments as "lifestyle diseases," the quality of air, drinking water, and soil are environmental factors that are affected by the behavior of entire communities rather then by single individuals.
Preventive health actions are always - especially in the long run - more effective than other types of health actions. For more than a decade, the World Health Organization (WHO), the public health arm of the United Nations, has been trying to develop an integrated approach to the prevention of certain noncommunicable diseases through early detection and treatment. It makes sense to screen populations for all those diseases that affect people in the second half of their lives, using an integrated system of diagnosis and treatment. Such systems would invariably protect the health of certain groups within an overall population, not only through, disease detection at early stages of development but by continued monitoring of specific groups in order to formulate plans for the most appropriate approaches to prophylactic and treatment measures. At the same time, such systems would neutralize the effect of the causative factors for these relatively common diseases.
SOURCE: Dr. Nikolai Napolkov, WHO
Assistant Director, World Health Magazine, #2, 1995
1995 World Health Report
The 1995 World Health Report covers almost every nation and territory around the world, publishing tables, charts, maps, and graphs on such indicators as death rates, life expectancy, infant mortality, population, fertility rates, adult literacy, and health expenditures per capita. This year, extreme poverty is identified as the world's primary killer of individuals, and the main cause of ill health and suffering. Other conclusions published in the report include:
· life expectancy in one least-developed nation is 43 years, contrasted with 78 years among industrialized nations.
· each year over 12 million developing-economy children under the age of five die, mostly from preventable causes.
· over 20 million women undergo unsafe abortions each year, killing more than 70,000 of them.
· 99% of deaths due to communicable diseases from maternal, perinatal, and neonatal causes occur in the developing world.
· half the world's population still lacks regular access to treatment for common diseases.
SOURCE: World Health Report, 1995.
SOURCE: World Health Magazine, #2,