Preventing and Controlling Chronic Diseases
Non-communicable diseases are among the leading source of morbidity and mortality and a serious hindrance to human development worldwide. The cost of chronic diseases extends well beyond individuals to affect families, communities and economies at large. Brazil , for example, is expected to accumulate a loss of $49.2 billion in national income between 2005 and 2015 due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes1.
This major economic loss due to chronic diseases is preventable. Up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over one third of cancers can be averted by eliminating common risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol2. Working conditions and environments have a powerful role to play in preventing and controlling chronic diseases.
The PAHO Plan of Action for Cancer Prevention and Control calls for countries to integrate occupational cancers into national cancer registries, strengthen surveillance and information systems, and improve access to occupational health services. The occupational component of this policy was developed with the participation and contribution of our Collaborating Centers , PAHO country focal points, and other stakeholders through a series of regional meetings and literature review.
The Workers’ Health team is also participating in the Partners’ Forum, which is a platform for public, private, and civil society members to discuss how to prevent and control chronic disease, including cancer. Workplace wellness is one of the 12 focal areas of the Partners’ Forum. Discussions with these multi-sectoral stakeholders are continuing as the Forum will be officially launched in December 2009.
1. World Health Organization (WHO) and World Economic Forum (WEF). 2008, Preventing Non communicable Diseases in the Workplace through Diet and Physical Activity: WHO/World Economic Forum Report of a Joint Event, WHO/WEF, Geneva .
2. WHO 2008: http://www.who.int/nmh/Actionplan-PC-NCD-2008.pdf