Bill Harvey: Sweet dreams

It's time to pay closer attention to non-communicable diseases

At school I was taught to learn a new word and do something that scares me once a day. I have tried to live by this. Today’s new word is kakistocracy.

A new study released by the WHO last week, called ‘Invisible numbers - The true extent of non-communicable diseases and what to do about them’, made the following, startling claim: ‘Every two seconds, someone under 70 dies of a non-communicable disease (NCD).’ It seems that at least 17 million people die prematurely before the age of 70 every year due to NCDs; the main ones are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease. Because of a failure to address contributory factors, such as diet, air quality, poverty and smoking, it seems that just a few countries remain on track to meet global development targets to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030. Judging by the number of younger retinopathy patients coming into clinics post-pandemic, perhaps it is time to refocus on health issues?

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