What are non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?

The world’s leading cause of death

40 million people are killed each year by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These account for 70% 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 this diseases.

These conditions are responsible for an alarming portion of disease across the globe, and are the cause of most premature deaths. They are an enormous emotional and financial burden on individuals, families, communities and health systems.


Diseases of inequality

Annually, 17 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 17 million people, 87% live in low- and middle-income countries. Additionally, people dying from NCDs in low- and middle-income countries account for almost 75% of NCD deaths worldwide.


What is the solution?

By focusing on the risk factors, these long-term health conditions are largely preventable. Read about how C3 is bringing organisations together to find solutions to this public health crisis.

For more information about NCDs, we recommend visiting these webpages: