What is NCD? What problem is it causing? How can the problem be solved?
NCD stands for non-communicable disease, also known as “lifestyle disease”. This type of diseases are not passed from person to person. They are usually chronic diseases that progress slowly throughout a long period of time. NCDs are preventable and the most common causes are smoking, alcohol abuse, unbalanced diets and lack of physical activity. According to WHO, NCD nowadays overtook infectious diseases as the principle driver of global mortality.
The 4 main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. They account for over 80% of all NCD deaths. 
The rise of NCDs has brought serious socioeconomic impacts. High health care costs for treating NCDs not only become a heavy burden for governments but also drive families into poverty. Premature deaths (death before the age of 70) are also increasing globally and most occur in middle and low-income countries. This is mainly because developing countries generally have lower capacity for the prevention and control of NCDs. Although high-income groups also suffer from unhealthy diet and lifestyle, they can access better medical services and products that can protect them. On the contrary, some of these treatments are simply unaffordable for the less privileged.
Dealing with NCDs requires effort from both individuals and governments. The individual must adopt behavior changes and lead a healthy lifestyle in order to minimize the risk of NCDs. However, it is up to the governments to develop policies and revolutionize public health care to tackle the core of this problem. NCDs are driven by the effects of globalization, rapid urbanization and population ageing – factors over which the individual has little control and over which the conventional health sector also has little power.
World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a set of low-cost policy interventions that focus on two main aspects: prevention and detection. 
To lessen the NCD burden, WHO put forward a global action plan that aims to reduce the number of premature deaths through nine global targets. The targets include to reduce alcohol abuse, insufficient physical activity, salt/sodium intake, tobacco use and hypertension; halt the rise of obesity and diabetes; and improve coverage of treatment for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and access to basic technologies and medicines. Some of the suggested measures include banning all forms of tobacco and alcohol advertising, replacing trans fats with polyunsaturated fats and promoting breastfeeding.
Apart from the above, we also recommend people to maintain their liver and kidney health, as normal liver and kidney functions are closely linked with preventing modern diseases.
“Disease surveillance is further needed to detect NCDs and to detect them early, when patient management has the best chance of success and at the lowest cost.” – Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General 
Regular checkups and screening is important as early detection and diagnosis can result in timely treatment of NCDs. The success rate of treatment is higher and treatment is more cost-effective in the early stages. WHO also recommends the development of more user-friendly technologies for easy diagnosis by health workers and self-monitoring by patients for diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.