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Noncommunicable Disease – An Emerging Global Health Crisis

Ambassador Nancy Brinker

Over the course of the last 30 years, I have watched women’s cancers go from being a disease that only affects affluent countries to being a global problem. If there was ever any truth to the notion that cancer is mostly a rich country’s problem, the facts no longer support it. The numbers of deaths each year from breast cancer are now equally split between developed and developing countries.

All of us involved in the work of global health, and women’s health in particular, need to better understand what we are up against. And a 2014 report by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) does exactly that.

I was honored to be a member of CFR’s task force on noncommunicable disease (NCD) to study the emerging global health crisis in low- and middle-income countries. NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are now the leading cause of death and disability in these countries, where they killed almost 8 million people in 2013 before their 60th birthday.

The bottom line is people are succumbing to disease so much faster, so much younger, and with such worse outcomes than they did in high-income countries.

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