Why prevention?

The world’s leading cause of death

41 million people are killed each year by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These account for 71% of deaths worldwide. NCDs are chronic conditions that cannot be transferred from person to person. Instead, they result largely from individuals’ health behaviours influenced by the environment we live in (also called risk factors).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the following as the four major NCDs:

  • cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and strokes)
  • type 2 diabetes
  • chronic lung disease
  • cancers

Most chronic diseases slowly progress over a long time. But they are not inevitable! This long progression means that there are ample opportunities to intervene in people’s lives before NCDs develop, or to reduce NCDs’ burden in individuals already suffering from these diseases.

NCDs are responsible for an alarming portion of disease across the globe, and are the cause of most premature deaths. These statistics also mean that an unfathomable number of grandparents, parents, siblings, and children are needlessly suffering. They also signal a significant cost to the global economy: an estimated $30 trillion by 2030.


Diseases of inequality

Annually, 15 million people die before the age of 70 from NCDs, often leaving behind families who relied on them for financial support.

The WHO reports that of those 15 million people, over 85% live in low- and middle-income countries. 


What do we mean by ‘risk factors’?

By focusing on the risk factors, these long-term health conditions are largely preventable.

Risk factors increase the likelihood of developing a disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the primary risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are:

  • tobacco use
  • unhealthy food and drink (including harmful use of alcohol)
  • lack of physical activity

Although NCD prevention frequently focuses on individual behaviour change, we at C3 know that the environment we live in very much dictates our behaviours. It can be difficult – or next to impossible – to adopt healthy behaviours if your surroundings make being unhealthy the cheaper, easier option.

That’s why we leverage our convening expertise to bring together different groups, including individuals, communities, organisations, businesses, and policymakers, to collaborate on societal solutions that make it easier for people to live healthy lives.


What is the solution?

The solution to this public health crisis is to work with all sectors of society to make it easier for people to live healthy lives, which is at the core of our vision. Read more about C3’s programmes and ways that you too can get involved to address the world’s biggest killer.



For more information about NCDs and their risk factors, we recommend visiting these webpages: