Chronic Illness of Epidemic Proportions

The Implications of Chronic Illness are Profound

A chronic illness is one that can be controlled but not cured and chronic illnesses are the biggest causes of premature death. A WHO report back in 2005 forecast that approximately 17 million people die prematurely each year as a result of chronic disease. These chronic diseases include the following pathologies:

  • heart disease,
  • stroke,
  • cancer and
  • diabetes,

The Global Impact of Chronic Illness

The epidemic is worst in low and middle income countries, where 80% of all chronic disease deaths occur. However, the impact is huge in all countries – and nicely summarised in this US infographic


The WHO report estimated accumulated losses to China from 2005 to 2015, of US$ 558 billion, for India US$ 236 billion, and US$ 303 billion for the Russian Federation.

The risk factors including diet, smoking and lifestyle are increasing as people's dietary habits change to foods high in fats and sugars, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Over one billion people globally are overweight or obese, and WHO predicts that will rise beyond 1.5 billion by 2015 without immediate action.