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The global rise in chronic diseases combined with Covid-19 bodes badly for global health

Such risk factors include obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, as well as air pollution, alcohol and drug use, the team from the University of Washington Institute for Metrics and Assessment of Health (IHME), which conducts the study , found.

“One of the most important messages from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease is that over the past decade the world has done a bad job of reducing harmful risks and this is fueling a global chronic disease crisis. While communicable diseases are causing fewer diseases, disability and death compared to the past – with the obvious exception of Covid-19 – chronic diseases are on the rise, ”said Emmanuela Gakidou, one of the study’s co-authors.

Gakidou said the biggest health impact has come from a large increase in metabolic risk factors over the past decade. “Collectively, we find that metabolic risks accounted for 20% of total health loss worldwide in 201

9,” he said.

The study, carried out in close collaboration with the World Health Organization, involved more than 5,500 international researchers who surveyed people in 200 countries.

Lead researcher Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of IHME, said the transition from conditions that cause death to those that cause chronic disability is a looming problem during the pandemic.

“It turns out in the Covid era that many of these conditions are also things that increase the risk of death from Covid. So, that shift to disability is also a shift to vulnerability,” he said at a news conference.

The US ranked poorly in several areas. Life expectancy in 2019 averaged 78.9 years compared to over 81 years for high-income countries as a whole, according to the report, published in the Lancet medical journal. Life expectancy in the United States has not improved since 2010. This is partly due to a more than 16% increase in deaths from cardiovascular disease, the report found.

But Murray said he’s not the only culprit.

“When we look at disease in the United States, there is a clear increase – even before Covid – in terms of diabetes, suicide and we are seeing some increases in mental health conditions and a very large increase in drug use, addicted deaths. from drugs. And so, that combination has led to a slowdown and a kind of stagnation in life expectancy improvements, “he said.

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In addition, the under-5 mortality rate in the United States is nearly 75% higher than the average for other high-income countries and nearly double that of Australia. And in 2019, more than half of all overdose deaths globally occurred in the United States.

Both Murray and Gakidou said the good news is that there is huge potential for improvement by reducing these health risks.

Murray said that other good news is: “There has been more progress for the poorer countries in terms of health than for the richer countries. And so the recovery is narrowing the gap between the bottom quintile of nations in terms of development. and the first quintile “.

Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, said that, especially in light of the coronavirus, more needs to be done to improve the health of vulnerable people around the world.

“This means that when it comes to how prepared we were for Covid-19, we need to talk, not just about preparing for a virus, but also how healthy our population was to withstand the impact of that virus,” he said.

Horton predicted that “the shadow of this episode will live on with the next generation not only for years to come, but for decades to come as well.”

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