Health ministry plans to reduce premature NCD deaths by 30%

January 18, 2020 - 18:49

TEHRAN – The Iranian health ministry plans to reduce premature deaths as a result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by up to 30 percent within the next 6 years, director of the health ministry’s department for NCDs management has stated.

According to a 2015-2025 national plan, premature deaths related to NCDs should be reduced by 30 percent over the next 6 years.

“Under the plan, salt intake and tobacco use must be reduced by 30 percent, physical inactivity and mental illnesses each must be decreased by 20 percent, and the consumption of trans fatty acids should reach zero. 

Moreover, access to the physician must increase up to 90 percent and access to medicine also reach over 70 percent. On the other hand, the prevalence of obesity and diabetes should also should be stopped,” Afshin Ostovar explained.

A number of measures have already been taken to achieve the objectives of the national plan, he stated, adding, when implemented, Iran is recognized as the leading country in the world in this manner.

“The plan consists of 13 goals, nine of which are global. Some of the goals can be easily achieved by changing the foods’ ingredients, such as reducing salt in bread, increasing physical activity, and so on,” he added.

He went on to say that most of this, of course, happens through education and public awareness which can increase physical activity, monitor blood pressure, or control blood sugar.

Non-communicable diseases are currently the most important threat to human health, as 82 percent of deaths in the country are due to these diseases, and the Ministry of Health's approach is more focused on prevention, he explained.

Some 300,000 Iranians die of NCDs annually

In February 2019, the health ministry announced that some 300,000 Iranians die of NCDs annually in Iran, which means that one-fourth of the country’s population (standing at 80 million) are overweight or obese which also results in developing NCDs.

Diabetes, non-communicable diseases, is a serious threat to people’s health and is the fifth leading cause of death in the country. Diabetes prevalence is 10 percent in Iran and is high among people aging 50 or more.

Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints), and some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon) are common health consequences of overweight and obesity, WHO warns.

Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can contribute to serious health problems if it's not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

Moreover, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women aged 25 to 64 years also have high cholesterol due to overweight and obesity, consuming fast food, and insufficient physical activity.

NCDs, a global health threat

NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Each year, 15 million people die from an NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; over 85% of these "premature" deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9million), and diabetes (1.6 million). These 4 groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths.

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD. Detection, screening, and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs. 


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