Skip directly to content

Non-Communicable Diseases: Some facts

on Sat, 12/20/2014 - 19:27

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a group of conditions that are not mainly caused by an acute infection and are not communicable or contagious, meaning they are not passed from person to person. Unlike communicable diseases and acute infections, NCDs are of long-term duration resulting in prolonged health consequences and generally with slow progression which create a need for long-term treatment and care.

NCDs include a vast number of conditions, however the most important conditions are cardiovascular diseases, defined by ICD-10 with codes I00-I99 which include heart attacks and stroke; cancers (ICD-10: C00-C97); chronic respiratory diseases (ICD-10: J30-J98) including chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma; and diabetes (ICD-10:  E10-E14). Mental health disorders are other important conditions considered as NCDs.

As illustrated in the interactive chart below, based on mortality estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2013 (GBD2013) 1, 2, NCDs account for 38 million deaths worlwide in 2013, 70% of total deaths. This figure is three times higher than deaths caused from communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases and 8 times higher than deaths from injuries. It is expected that this figure increases over the next decades.   

Readers are encouraged to interact with the above data visualization to get insight about the distribution of NCDs and other broad causes of deaths in their country or other countries of interest.

The global pattern of mortality distribution by broad causes of death, sex and age groups in 2013 shows also a high proportion of premature deaths in youth and adult population (at ages less than 70 years old). Note that the global pattern is a sort of average situation as it is counting many countries with a variety of population health srtatus. 

In high-income economies and developed countries, NCDs accounts for high proportion of deaths but most of those deaths are postponed to older ages. Take a look at the case of Finland, for instance, where NCDs accounts for 91% of deaths but most of those deaths are happening at ages 70-80 years old.    

This pattern is quite different in low and middle-income countries, such as the case of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, west african countries with poor economies and currently affected by the Ebola visus disease (EVD) outbreak. By selecting any of these countries in the data visualization, you will notice that the number of deaths from Communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases is two times the number of deaths from NCDs and they exhibit high number of deaths in children (under-five years old) and young population which currently are avoidable and unnecesary deaths. At the same time a high proportion of deaths from NCDs ocurred prematurely. 

This is the first from a series of blog posts about non-communicable diseases I've planned to write. Keep tuned and share your thoughts and feedback in comment section below.

I hope the blog post series help readers to learn about non-communicable diseases. 


  1. Naghavi M, Murray C.J.L, Lopez, A, et al. Global, regional, and national age–sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. The Lancet. Publish Online: 17 December 2014. DOI:
  2. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013) Age-Sex Specific All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality 1990-2013. Seattle, United States: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2014. Data set available online at IHME GHDx 

Related contents



Zaki Anwar MD's picture

Really thank you very much for this list of health guest posts sites

Post new comment