The Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the World Economic Forum are collaborating on Wellness Week, which seeks to develop a social movement on healthy settings for healthy living and increase awareness among individuals, policy makers, communities and employers. The objective of Wellness Week is to emphasize the importance of the built and natural environment and socioeconomic conditions in modifying the risk factors for non-communicable diseases and in promoting prevention.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for more than half all deaths in the world. WHO states that:
- 36 million of the 67 million global deaths in 2008 were due to NCDs
- 29% of NCD deaths in low- and middle-income countries in 2008 occurred before the age of 60
- 80% of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented
In addition to increasing early death rates, NCDs also increase health care costs, affect development, lower the quality of life and decrease well-being.
Non-communicable diseases include mainly:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic respiratory diseases
While not the only NCDs, these four account for the majority of NCD-related avoidable deaths and share the common risk factors of physical inactivity, inadequate diet, tobacco use, and the harmful use of alcohol.