Accessibility links

Breaking News

HEALTH REPORT - Adherence to Long-term Therapies Report - 2003-08-19

Broadcast: August 20, 2003

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

The World Health Organization says medical progress against disease will have no effect if people fail to take their medicine. That may seem like common sense. But a W-H-O report says only about half of people in developed countries continue their treatments for serious medical conditions. Continuing treatment over a long period of time is known as adherence. Adherence rates are even lower in developing countries.

The W-H-O released the report as part of an effort called the Adherence to Long-Term Therapies project. This project is a worldwide attempt to improve rates of treatment for sicknesses that last a long time.

The report says more than fifty percent of all long-term diseases include mental disorders, H-I-V infection, tuberculosis and conditions that do not spread. These include cancer and heart disease. Experts say the percentage will rise to sixty-five percent of all the long-term diseases treated by two-thousand-twenty. Other long-term diseases discussed in the report include high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and asthma.

The Adherence to Long-Term Therapies Project is the work of more than two-hundred-eighty scientists. They come from over forty countries. One goal of the project is to involve policy makers and health professionals in the search for better adherence rates. Another purpose is to support research about ways to improve adherence. Still another is to develop local programs to support patients.

The W-H-O report says health care providers need training to judge a patient's ability to understand and continue with treatments. They need to give advice about how people can follow their treatments. And they need to examine the patient's progress at every chance.

The report says patients need to be supported, not blamed. It says another way to improve adherence is to get the support of the patient's family and community. Research has shown that these are important influences on treatment.

The W-H-O report says improving adherence to existing treatments may have better results than providing new medical technologies. It says better adherence is a low-cost way to improve the lives of people with long-term diseases.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.