Non-Communicable Diseases Increase the Risk of Death Due to COVID-19

The results of a new study released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations, show that people suffering from non-communicable diseases are more susceptible to becoming seriously ill and dying from COVID-19.

Non-communicable diseases have killed more than 40 million people worldwide in one year. WHO says 7 out of 10 global deaths are caused by heart disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory and other non-communicable diseases.

Of these, data shows 17 million people died prematurely, most of them between the ages of 30 and 70. Most of the deaths occur in low-income countries.

The head of the UN task force on non-communicable diseases, Nick Banatvala, said non-communicable diseases and their risk factors increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, and can have dire consequences, including for young people. He added that academic research in several countries shows the magnitude of the problem.

“A study in France showed that COVID-19 was seven times more likely to develop severe disease in obese patients. Smokers are one and a half times more likely to have severe complications from COVID-19 and have a higher death rate. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to experience severe symptoms or die from COVID-19," Banatvala said.

Banatvala added, other studies have shown similar results for people with chronic lung or heart disease, cancer and so on.

"Overall, nearly a quarter of the global population is estimated to have an underlying medical condition, which increases their susceptibility to COVID-19, and a large proportion of these conditions are non-communicable diseases," Banatvala said.

"I want to remind you that 70 percent of global deaths are caused by non-communicable diseases. However, non-communicable diseases (only) receive less than two percent of development assistance for health," he added.

Banatvala calls this narrow view. He said a 2018 WHO study showed investing in cost-effective health prevention measures could save money and lives.

He added that this study found that for every one dollar or equivalent to 14,700 rupiah spent on preventive measures, there will be a return of seven dollars, equivalent to 103 thousand rupiah, until 2030. He also said, using this initiative for the next decade future could save the lives of 8.2 million people. (VOA)


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