A group of diseases also called “non-communicable diseases”, which are diseases that are not transmitted from person to person, and it usually takes a person’s infection and development for a long period within a relatively slow process.
Chronic diseases include four main groups, which are:
- Heart disease, such as heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
- Cancer of all kinds.
- Chronic respiratory diseases, such as crisis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Chronic diseases are a global problem, and their numbers have increased – since the last decades of the twentieth century – a remarkable increase. In the Arab countries, changes in the patterns of dietary behavior and physical activity have led to developments in their rates and increases. Chronic diseases in the Arab world pose a challenge to health and medical decision-makers and strategists.
Characteristics of chronic diseases:
They are not transmitted by infection, as they are not caused by bacteria or viruses.
Infection is usually silent, and the patient may not notice it until complications, such as high blood pressure, start to occur.
It is related to the nutritional and motor behavior of individuals and societies, for example diabetes is associated with overweight and obesity, and respiratory diseases are associated with smoking.
Its treatment usually extends throughout the person’s life and not for a specific period, for example, a patient with high blood pressure usually needs to continue treatment until the end of his life.
Treatment is usually expensive and includes stages that may be troublesome for the patient, such as chemotherapy and radiation for people with cancer.
Chronic diseases annually cause about 36 million deaths globally, and 80% of deaths occur in poor and developing countries. Nine million chronic disease deaths are people under the age of 60, and 90% of them are in poor and developing countries. Chronic disease deaths are distributed among its different groups as follows:
Heart disease is responsible for 17.3 million deaths.
Cancers 7.6 million.
Respiratory diseases 4.2 million.
Diabetes 1.3 million.
- Use of tobacco and its derivatives, such as smoking cigarettes and hookah.
- Decreased motor activity.
- Eating an unhealthy diet.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Overweight and obesity.
- High blood sugar level.
- High level of fats in the blood.
WHO data indicate that risk factors contribute to the following percentages of chronic disease deaths:
- High blood pressure is responsible for 16.5% of all chronic disease deaths.
- Tobacco use: 9% of deaths.
- High blood sugar level: 6%.
- Lack of physical activity: 6%.
- Overweight and obesity: 5%.
- Not eating enough vegetables and fruits: 5% of deaths.
- Effects of chronic diseases:
- Reducing people’s quality of life.
- The nation’s loss of manpower as a result of premature deaths and disability caused by disease.
- Health care costs for chronic diseases put pressure on state budgets, especially with
Exacerbation of the disease and the development of complications.
Strategies for dealing with chronic diseases:
Reducing risk factors, such as imposing more taxes on the tobacco industry to reduce smoking rates, and encouraging people to exercise.
Providing primary health care to detect chronic diseases in their early stages before their development, and this leads to improving the quality of life of individuals and reducing the cost of subsequent treatment, which will be greater when the disease worsens and complications develop.
Expanding the umbrella of health insurance to include chronic diseases, and it is estimated that health insurance in the developed world covers chronic diseases four times better than poor and developing countries, and this explains the decrease in death rates from these diseases and their rise in poor countries.