Chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease are rising fast in low- and middle-income countries, striking far younger populations than in rich countries and causing much worse outcomes, according to a new report.
Deaths from chronic diseases have risen by more than 50 percent in low- and middle-income countries over the past two decades, according to the report, by the Council on Foreign Relations. The increase is part of a shift in global mortality patterns in which infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, have declined substantially and are no longer the leading cause of death in the developing world.
The shift in poorer countries is being driven by urbanization and other major changes that have led to improvements in aspects of public health, such as hand washing, sanitation and vaccines. That has led to sharp declines in infant mortality, and in turn, to increases in life spans. The average life expectancy in Africa, for example, has increased by about eight years since 2000, according to the World Health Organization.