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WHO: Too Many People Dying from Non-Communicable Diseases


FILE - In this June 22, 2016 photo, customers stand in line at a fast food restaurant in Santiago, Chile. A new food labeling law went into effect on Monday in Chile, a country with the world's highest rates of childhood obesity. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says progress is being made in reducing deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). But it says much more needs to be done to save the almost 40 million people who die every year from preventable causes.

In a new report, the WHO noted that cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes are the biggest killers of people. Every year, the report said, 15 million adults die before they reach old age. It noted they often die in the most productive period of their lives, between the ages of 30 and 70.

The agency says tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity are some of the top reasons for premature death.

Douglas Bettcher is the WHO director for the prevention of non-communicable diseases. He says little progress is being made on cutting premature death from such diseases by one-third by the year 2030. That is a Sustainable Development Goal for United Nations member countries.

“The window of opportunity to save lives is closing. This is playing out before our eyes in many ways, including increasing numbers of people -- particularly children and adolescents -- suffering from obesity, overweight and diabetes. If we don't take action now to protect people from NCDs, we will condemn today’s and tomorrow’s youth to lives of ill-health and reduced economic opportunities.”

Bettcher says premature deaths from non-communicable diseases are not just a problem for rich countries.

“Eighty percent of the deaths are in countries that are already often stressed, their health systems are stressed with the usual -- the conventional burdens of disease, communicable diseases, maternal-child health problems. And, then this is an added, extremely large burden for the health system.”

The WHO report says Costa Rica and Iran are at the top of a list of 10 countries that have been most successful at reducing deaths from non-communicable diseases. It says six countries have failed to make any progress against such deaths.

Five of the six are in Africa. They are Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome Principe and South Sudan. The sixth country is Micronesia in the western Pacific.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Lisa Schlein reported this story from Geneva. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted her report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

non-communicable – adj. not able to be passed to another person

cardiovascular – adj. of or relating to the heart and blood vessels

chronic – adj. continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

respiratory – adj. of or relating to breathing or the organs of the body that are used in breathing

diabetes – n. a serious disease in which the body cannot properly control the amount of sugar in your blood because it does not have enough insulin

adolescent – n. a young person who is developing into an adult; a young person who is going through adolescence

obese – adj. very fat; fat in a way that is unhealthy

stressed – adj. having a lot of pressure

conventional – adj. used and accepted by most people; usual or traditional

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