KATHMANDU, May 16: One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure levels--a condition that causes around half of all the deaths from stroke and heart disease--while one in ten has diabetes, says The World Health Statistics 2012 report released by WHO on Wednesday.
The WHO´s annual statistics report, which for the first time includes information from 194 countries on the percentage of men and women with high blood pressure and blood glucose levels, puts the spotlight on the growing problem of the non-communicable diseases and also identifies obesity as another major health issue.
Diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, blindness and kidney failure if left untreated.
“This report is further evidence of the dramatic increase in the conditions that trigger heart disease and other chronic illnesses, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” a press statement received here quotes Director General of WHO Dr Margaret Chan as saying. “In some African countries, as much as half the adult population has high blood pressure.”
In high-income countries, widespread diagnosis and treatment with low-cost medication have significantly reduced mean blood pressure across populations, according to the press statement, and this has contributed to a reduction in deaths from heart disease.
“In Africa, however, more than 40% (and up to 50%) of adults in many countries are estimated to have high blood pressure. Most of these people remain undiagnosed, although many of these cases could be treated with low-cost medications, which would significantly reduce the risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke,” reads the press statement.
The report also points at the doubling of obesity between 1980 and 2008 in every region of the world and states that half a billion people (12% of the world´s population) are obese.
The highest obesity levels are in the WHO Region of the Americas (26% of adults) and the lowest in the WHO South-East Asia Region (3% obese) which includes Nepal. But it warns that women are more likely to be obese than men all around the world and are therefore at a greater risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
The non-communicable diseases currently cause almost two-thirds of all deaths worldwide and the global rise in numbers of deaths from heart and lung diseases, diabetes and cancer had prompted the United Nations to hold a high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases in New York in September, 2011. The World Health Assembly, to be held in Geneva from 21-26 May 2012, will review progress made since that meeting and agree on next steps, according to the press statement.
The annual report also has some good news on maternal mortality and causes of child death. It says the number of annual maternal deaths has decreased from more than 540,000 in 1990 to less than 290,000 in 2010, with India contributing around 20 percent of those deaths in 2010.
The report also reveals that annual death of children aged less than five years has reduced from almost 10 million in 2000 to 7.6 million in 2010. The report further states that just 34 developed countries (representing 15% of the world´s population) keep high-quality cause-of-death data while less than 10% of deaths are registered in low and middle-income countries.
The annual report published by WHO is considered to be the most comprehensive publication of health-related global statistics available with data on health system indicators including life expectancy, illnesses and deaths from a range of diseases, health services and treatments, financial investment in health, as well as risk factors and behaviors that affect health.