Long considered diseases of minor significance to global health, the main four NCDs—diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease now represent one of the major threats to human and economic development. NCDs kill and disable, impoverish families, impose a huge economic burden on governments and business, and overwhelm health systems. They are the world's number one killer, and no nation—rich or poor—is immune from their impact.
Having been born and raised in one of the poorest countries in the world, I have seen many children with bloated tummies—a key sign of malnutrition. Today, distended bellies are a sign across the globe, not of hunger, but of overweight and obesity. These conditions are major risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Global status report on non-communicable diseases,” are linked to more deaths globally than underweight. Hunger is a preventable scourge which has no place in today’s world. Like hunger, the conditions that cause NCDs are preventable. An integral part of the prevention strategy is respect for human rights and effective health laws.