Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of mortality worldwide, responsible for a staggering 70 percent of global deaths. The vast majority of those deaths, about 80 percent, occur in low- and middle-income countries, making the prevention and treatment of NCDs one of the most urgent health concerns in developing countries. While combating NCDs is a global task, regional contexts and social factors cause unique challenges.
Ripple Effect seeks to explain just a few of these challenges through the perspective of health care workers and individuals living with NCDs in three different countries.
The consequences of living with an NCD extend beyond the life and livelihood of one person.
In Colombia, where the public health care system is strong but access is unequal, a nonprofit private organization provides accessible cancer screenings for underserved communities to help ensure early diagnosis with the proper medical technology and timely treatment.
Meanwhile, health care workers in Cameroon work to counteract widespread stigma associated with diseases, including hypertension, through an awareness campaign encouraging the community to “know your numbers.” And in the Kalobeyei Settlement in Kenya, accurate data is a key step to helping ensure adequate NCD care for both displaced and host populations.
At the center of any NCD is an individual, living with the physical symptoms of their disease, yet the consequences extend beyond the life and livelihood of one person. When compounded on a community or national level, chronic medical conditions have social and economic impacts including lost productivity, stress on the health system, and overall reduction in quality of life.
The stories included in Ripple Effect illustrate the interrelated forces affecting — and affected by — individuals living with NCDs. In doing so, the series aims to help identify points of opportunity for alleviating the global burden of such diseases.
For more coverage of NCDs, visit the Taking the Pulse series here.