According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases are underestimated worldwide. Every two seconds, a person under the age of 70 dies from such a disease in the world, the WHO reported.
It is known what to do about it, said Bente Mikkelsen, head of the non-communicable diseases (NCD) unit at the WHO in Geneva. "We just have to implement the interventions everywhere." These included a reduction in tobacco use, a healthier diet, less alcohol, more exercise and better air.
But 85 percent of the sick lived in low- and middle-income countries, writes the WHO in its report. When they become ill, they often have little prospect of appropriate treatment. Additional healthcare spending of $140 billion (around €18 billion) by 2030 could bring these countries a net economic benefit of $2.7 trillion - in part because treated sick people can go back to work.
Non-communicable diseases are responsible for 74 percent of all deaths worldwide. If the well-known and effective interventions were implemented, 39 million lives could be saved worldwide by 2030 and countless people could live longer and happier lives, the report says.
At the same time, the WHO is launching an interactive data portal in which the situation in every country in the world can be viewed. It shows that Sweden, Norway, Italy and Australia, among others, are the least affected by non-communicable diseases.
Comparisons between countries are also possible. Compared to Germany, France has greater problems with obesity and poor nutrition, but the French are more physically active. In Italy there are more alcohol problems but fewer cardiovascular diseases than in Germany. However, the data situation is not equally good in all countries.