For international organisations to effectively address global health needs, their efforts to tackle noncommunicable chronic diseases must massively increase — especially in developing countries.
Infectious diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria have enjoyed the majority of attention and funding in low-income countries. But they account for just 12 per cent of deaths in these countries.
Noncommunicable chronic diseases cause a substantial health burden in the developing world — cardiovascular disease alone accounts for 27 per cent of deaths. Yet little funding is allocated to them.
In this article in The New England Journal of Medicine, Anderson and Chu argue that this is because chronic diseases cannot cause epidemics and require lengthy treatment and prevention measures, with no prospect of a 'permanent fix'. There are also misconceptions that these measures are expensive and that such diseases only affect the elderly in rich countries.
In fact, cost-effective interventions do exist and have been shown to be sustainable after initial investment. The authors encourage aid agencies to provide more resources and help reduce the impact of noncommunicable chronic diseases.