Non-communicable diseases in Africa: Youth are key to curbing the epidemic and achieving sustainable development

Reshma Naik and Toshiko Kaneda

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, are now the leading cause of death in most regions of the world. Africa, home to 54 low- and middle-income countries, is expected to have the world’s largest increase in NCD deaths over the next decade. This will impose a significant burden to the continent, which is also projected to see its population double within the next generation. In most countries in North Africa, NCDs are already responsible for more than three-quarters of all deaths.

Although communicable diseases and other conditions still predominate in sub-Saharan Africa, NCDs are projected to become the leading cause of death by 2030. Nearly half of the population in this region already suffers from hypertension (high blood pressure), a well-established precursor to NCDs such as heart attacks and strokes. Unless urgent action is taken, the growing NCD epidemic will add tremendous pressure to already overstretched health systems and pose a major challenge to development in Africa.

January 25, 2016
Year of publication
non-communicable diseases, NCDs, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, hypertension, health systems, burden of disease, youth

Similar Resources

HIV presents an increasing risk to pregnant women, their infants, and their families.

WHO updates HIV treatment guidance for pregnant women and preventing HIV infection in babies


Thanks to better HIV treatments—and the efforts of treatment advocates—people are living longer with HIV.

In guidelines released in 2010, the World Health Organization recommends that health facilities integrate prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) with maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) services to improve patient follow-up and adherence.

Presented at the SADC HIV Prevention and Research Meeting held on 9-10 October 2012 in Johannesburg.

This presentation focuses on:

The objective of this document is to provide technical recommendations on effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among sex workers and their clients.

After decades during which the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were rarely uttered in formal, intergovernmental meetings at the United Nations, a debate is unfolding at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.…