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Published: 2011-02-09

Umeå scientist in The Lancet: Time for action to cope with the rise of chronic non-communicable diseases in Southeast Asia

NEWS Governments in Southeast Asian countries need to take prompt action to build strong and sustainable national programme for prevention and control of chronic non-communicable disease (NCD). Inaction will cost lives, often the lives of those who have the least.

“Over 60% of deaths in Southeast Asia region are caused by chronic non-communicable disease (NCD). The death tolls are projected to increase in near future as the burden of risk factors such as tobacco uses, high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy diets, and lack of physical activity are at alarming rate. Strong and reliable epidemiological data are generally lacking in this region, and therefore surveillance of NCD and its modifiable risk factors need to be strengthened. Health-care system needs to be redesigned to deliver chronic care, and multisectoral approach needs to be taken in designing intervention for NCD prevention and control.” – says Dr. Nawi Ng from the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health Unit and Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Umeå University, who is one of the authors of the chronic disease paper in this series.

“Building national and regional leaderships in taking the NCD agenda forward is crucial. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should take a unified stand to propose actions for NCD prevention and control in the special high-level session on NCD at the UN General Assembly in September 2011,” continues Dr. Nawi Ng.

Dr. Nawi Ng collaborated with Prof. Antonio Dans MD (University of the Phillipines, Manila), Cherian Varghese MD (Western Pacific Regional Office WHO, Manila), E Shyong Tai MB ChB (National University of Singapore, Singapore), Rebecca Firestone (China Medical Board and Harvard Global Equity Initiative, Cambridge, and Prof. Ruth Bonita (University of Auckland, New Zealand). The team synthesized available (limited) evidences on NCD burdens, risk factors, and national responses to chronic disease in Southeast Asia region, and proposed important steps forward for governments in this region to reduce health and health burden inequality.

In many ways, Southeast Asia is a microcosm of global health. On January 25, 2011, Lancet published a series of six theme papers on health in Southeast Asia. The ten Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — have 580 million people, with their diversity in social, geographic, religious, and economic. The series itself focuses on key issues, including maternal and child health, emerging infectious diseases, epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases, health-care systems, human resources for health, and health-financing reforms.
Dr. Ng´s article on chronic disease at The LancetOther articles, including commentaries in the series at The LancetFor more information, please contact:Dr. Nawi NgDepartment of Public Health and Clinical MedicineEpidemiology and Global Health UnitEpidemiological Transition Theme Leader in the Centre for Global Health Research, Umeå University 

E-mail: nawi.ng@epiph.umu.se
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