Regional Workshop The Economic, Fiscal and Welfare Implications of Chronic Diseases in the Americas  - Background
Worldwide the social and economic burdens of NCDs have been increasing substantially in the last two decades. The countries of the Americas are not an exception to this global trend. More than 60% of deaths in the Americas are due to chronic disease and this proportion is expected to continue to increase during the next decades (WHO 2005, 2008). The shared risk factors are: unhealthy diet and physical inactivity (overweight and obesity affect 30-70% of adults); tobacco use (8-45% adults); and extended harmful use of alcohol. Currently, chronic diseases -namely heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes and obesity- and their complications -renal failure, stroke, blindness and amputations-, are the most costly health problems facing governments, communities, and families throughout the Americas. In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that ¾ of health care spending is on preventable chronic disease conditions (CDC, 2009). Globally, the problem of chronic diseases and obesity is concentrating more and more in poor families and it is emerging in children, threatening past public health gains. The good news is that most of it can be prevented through: concerted government public policies in the economic and social sectors; policies and actions by communities and private corporations; and induced optimal decisions by families and individuals.