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Diseases in the
South-East Asia Region

Situation and Response
Diseases in the
South-East Asia Region

Situation and Response
WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication data

World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia.

Noncommunicable diseases in the South-East Asia Region: Situation and response 2011.

1. Mortality. 2. Chronic Disease - prevention and control. 3. Risk Factors. 4. Cost of illness. 5. Risk factors.
6. Epidemiologic surveillance. 7. Delivery of Health Care. 8. Health Care Sector

ISBN 978-92-9022-413-6 (NLM classification: WT 500)

World Health Organization 2011

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Acknowledgments ii
Foreword iii
Acronyms iv
NCD Mortality 10
Trends in NCD Mortality and Morbidity 12
Disease-Specific Burden and Trends 13
Cardiovascular diseases 14
Cancers 15
Diabetes mellitus 17
Chronic respiratory diseases 18
Other NCDs 19
Behavioural Risk Factors 24
Tobacco use 24
Unhealthy diet 30
Physical inactivity 31
Harmful use of alcohol 32
Metabolic Risk Factors 33
Overweight and obesity 33
Raised blood pressure 35
Raised cholesterol 36
Cluster of risk factors 37
Other risk factors 38
Population ageing 43
Urbanization 44
Globalization 47
Poverty 47
Illiteracy 48
Underdeveloped health system 48
Economic burden of NCDs at the National Level 51
Economic burden of NCDs at household level 52
Institutional Capacity for NCD Prevention and Control at the Central Level 59
National Policies, Strategies, Plans and Programmes for NCD Prevention and Control 60
Surveillance and Monitoring 62
Heath System Capacity for NCD Prevention, Early detection, Treatment and Care 65
Health Financing 68
Partnerships and Collaboration 69
Lack of strong national partnerships for multisectoral actions 71
Weak surveillance systems 71
Limited access to prevention, care and treatment services for NCDs 72
Limited human resources for NCDs 72
Insufficient allocation of funds 72
Difficulties in engaging the industry and private sector 72
Lack of social mobilization 73
Global initiatives 75
Regional initiatives 76
Guiding Principles for NCD Prevention and Control 79
Health promotion and primary prevention to reduce risk factors for NCDs 80
using multisectoral approach
Health system strengthening for early detection and management of NCDs 80
Surveillance and research 81
Specific Strategies for NCD Prevention and Control 81
Role of Different Agencies in NCD Prevention and Control 82
Tables 85
Note on data sources and limitations 92


We thank the Member countries of the South-East Asia Region for providing the latest data on risk
factors, morbidity and mortality, as well as updates on national responses and key achievements. We are
grateful to national experts from Member countries of the Region for contributing to selected sections of
the report. We acknowledge the assistance of staff in the World Health Organization country offices for
their contribution in preparing this report. We are grateful to Dr Anton Fric for preparing an earlier
version of the report and Dr Abhaya Indrayan and Dr Niki Shrestha for extensive inputs to the report as
well as data verification, review of literature and references checking. Mr Ravinder Kumar prepared
charts and graphs. Ms Vani Kurup edited and designed the Report.


Foreword engaging in regular physical activity to maintain

body weight and managing mental stress. Effective
legislative policies that promote healthy
behaviours by default such as smoke-free zones,
restricted sale of alcohol below legal age,
regulation of marketing of unhealthy food to
children are also required to create a conducive
environment where people can adopt healthy
lifestyles easily. There is a need to create
This report describes the current burden of workplaces, schools, communities and
noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the South- environment that make adoption of healthy
East Asia Region (SEAR), their underlying risk lifestyle choices possible. Additionally, health
factors and socioeconomic determinants, and services and systems need to be strengthened to
summarizes national responses to the epidemic. accommodate the needs of NCD prevention and
NCDs are top killers in SEAR, causing 7.9
million deaths annually. One third of these deaths Noncommunicable diseases constitute a
are premature and occur before the age of 60 challenge for socioeconomic development. NCDs
years, in the economically productive age groups. contribute to poverty and threaten the
With the projected number of deaths expected to achievement of Millennium Development Goals
increase by 21% over the next decade, the scale of (MDGs). Addressing NCDs requires interventions
the problem we face is clearly serious. not only from the health sector but many other
Demographic changes (ageing population), rapid sectors, such as agriculture, education, urban
unplanned urbanization, negative aspects of global development and transport. The United Nations
trade and marketing, progressive increase in High-Level Meeting on NCDs held in New York,
unhealthy lifestyle patterns, as well as social and United States of America, earlier this year called
economic determinants are accelerating the upon all Member States to integrate their NCD
burden of NCDs. policies and programmes into the broader health
and development agenda and to develop
While there is a growing recognition among multisectoral national policies and plans to tackle
Member States of the need to tackle NCDs, the NCDs.
current focus is largely on providing medical
services to those who have already developed I call upon our Member States to join the
NCDs, rather than on promoting health and efforts of WHO and the UN to accord a high
eliminating the risk factors for NCDs. In an era of priority to prevention and control of NCDs in
spiralling health-care expenses, NCDs are national health policies and programmes, increase
exacerbating poverty and widening inequities, domestic and international resources for NCDs
particularly in SEAR where most health-care costs and galvanize a multisectoral response to NCDs.
are met by out-of-pocket expenditures. Thus there Given the enormous burden of NCDs in the
is a need for greater emphasis on health Region and their serious socioeconomic
promotion and primary prevention of NCDs based consequences, I urge national governments and
on the principles of primary health-care, equity all developmental partners to tackle NCDs with a
and social justice. sense of urgency.

Prevention of NCDs is feasible through

empowering individuals, families and
communities to adopt healthy lifestyles, namely Dr Samlee Plianbangchang
avoiding tobacco and alcohol use, eating a healthy Regional Director, World Health Organization
diet including plenty of vegetables and fruits, Regional Office for South-East Asia


BMI body mass index
BP blood pressure
CHD coronary heart disease
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CRDs chronic respiratory diseases
CURES Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study
CVDs cardiovascular diseases
DALYs disability adjusted life years
DBP diastolic blood pressure
FCTC WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
GATS Global Adult Tobacco Survey
GDP gross domestic product
GYTS Global Youth Tobacco Survey
HDL high density lipoprotein
HDSS Health and Demographic Surveillance System
ICMR Indian Council of Medical Research
IGT impaired glucose tolerance
INR Indian Rupee
LDL low density lipoprotein
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MONICA Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease
NCDs noncommunicable diseases
NFHS National Family Health Survey
NPHF Nepal Public Health Foundation
NTCC National Tobacco Control Cell
PEN WHO package of essential NCD interventions
SEA-ACHR South East Asia-Advisory Committee on Health Research
SEANET South-East Asian Network of NCD
SEAR South-East Asia Region
SEARO Regional Office for South-East Asia
TFA trans fatty acids
UNHLM UN High-level Meeting
WC waist circumference
WEF World Economic Forum


Executive Summary

Four major noncommunicable diseases I An estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer
(NCDs) cardiovascular diseases (including occur each year in the Region and claims 1.1
heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer and million lives each year. Among males, lung
chronic respiratory diseases (including chronic and oral cancers are most common, followed
obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) by oral cancer, while among females, the
are the leading cause of illness and death incidence of breast and cervix uteri cancers
worldwide including the South-East Asia Region is the highest.
(SEAR). In addition to the health burden, NCDs
There are an estimated 81 million people
have serious social and economic consequences

living with diabetics in the Region. The

particularly for poor and disadvantaged
prevalence of diabetes is consistently higher
in urban than rural areas, and is increasing
in both areas. Undiagnosed diabetes is a
Burden of NCDs in the South-East
significant problem in the Region.
Asia Region
I Of the estimated 14.5 million total deaths in I An estimated 1.4 million people died of
2008 in SEAR, 7.9 million (55%) were due chronic respiratory diseases in SEAR in
to NCDs. NCD deaths are expected to 2008; of these 86% were due to chronic
increase by 21% over the next decade. Of the obstructive pulmonary disease and 7.8% due
7.9 million annual NCD deaths in SEAR, to asthma.
34% occurred before the age of 60 years
compared to 23% in the rest of the world. NCD risk factors and social
I NCD mortality rates increase with age and
The four major behavioural risk factors of
are higher in males than females. Of the 7.9

NCDs (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of

million deaths due to NCDs in 2008,
physical activity and harmful use of alcohol)
cardiovascular diseases alone accounted for
that lead to four major metabolic risk
a quarter (25%) of all deaths. Chronic
factors (overweight/obesity, high blood
respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes
pressure, raised blood sugar and raised
accounted for 9.6%, 7.8% and 2.1% of all
blood lipids) are highly prevalent in the
deaths, respectively.
Region and on the rise. Hypertension,
I Cardiovascular diseases claimed 3.7 million raised blood glucose and tobacco use
lives in the Region. Ischeamic heart diseases together account for nearly 3.5 million
and stroke account for majority of the deaths in the Region every year.
cardiovascular disease deaths.


I The Region has nearly 250 million smokers I Approximately 30% of the adult population
and an equal number of smokeless tobacco has high blood pressure, which accounts for
users. Nearly half of all adult males and two nearly 1.5 million deaths annually; and 9.4%
in every five adult females use some form of of the total deaths are attributed to high
tobacco. 6.8% of annual deaths in the blood pressure.
Region are attributed to tobacco use. The
There are remarkable variations in raised
smoking rate among boys is higher than

cholesterol levels among adults, with the

that among girls in the age group 1315
highest prevalence (above 50% in both sexes)
years. However, prevalence of smokeless
in Maldives and Thailand. Females have a
tobacco use among young girls and women
higher prevalence of raised cholesterol than
in the Region is on the rise.
males in several Member countries. 4.9% of
I Three areas of particular concern regarding the total annual deaths in the Region are
unhealthy diet in the Region are low intake attributed to raised cholesterol.
of fruits and vegetables, high consumption
In addition to population ageing, which is a
of salt and widespread use of transfats in

non-modifiable determinant of NCDs,

the food industry. Approximately 80% of
poverty, urbanization, globalization,
the population does not eat sufficient
inequity and poor health systems are major
quantities of fruits and vegetables and half
drivers of NCDs and their risk factors.
a million deaths in the Region are attributed
to low intake of fruits and vegetables.
Economic burden of NCDs
Annually, nearly 800 000 deaths in the
There is a two-way link between NCDs and
Region are attributed to inadequate
household poverty. Poverty exposes
physical activity. The prevalence of
populations to risk behaviours and poor
insufficient physical activity varies from 3%
health outcomes; NCDs in turn exacerbate
to 41% among males and from 6.6% to 64%
poverty due to expenses incurred on
among females; 5.1% of the total annual
unhealthy behaviours, expenses on health
deaths are attributed to physical inactivity.
care and loss of wages.
The prevalence of alcohol consumption
Similarly, the macroeconomic burden is
varies from 2% to 44% among males and
also enormous and includes health care
from 0.1% to 26% among females. An
costs, loss of productivity due to premature
estimated 350 000 people died in SEAR of
deaths and decreased gross domestic
alcohol-related causes in 2004.
product (GDP).
The prevalence of overweight varied from 8%
National responses to NCDs

to 30% among males, and from 8% to 52%

among females. The prevalence of I All 11 Member countries* initiated a public
overweight and obesity is higher in females health response to NCDs and have
than in males. Annually, 350 000 deaths are allocation for NCD prevention and control
attributed to overweight and obesity in the in the budget of their respective ministries
Region. Childhood obesity is an emerging of health.


I Nine Member countries have an integrated I All Member countries reported providing at
policy on NCDs. Cancer and diabetes are least one NCD-related service at the
the most targeted diseases for control and primary care level in public health facilities.
chronic respiratory disease are the least This includes primary prevention and
covered. Guidelines on dietary counseling health promotion (11 countries), early
are available in six countries, guidelines on diagnosis of NCD risk-factors (9 countries)
tobacco dependence and physical activity and risk factor and disease management (10
are available in four countries and countries). All Member countries have an
guidelines on alcohol dependence are essential drugs list and many of the NCD-
available in five countries. related drugs are included in the national
essential drugs list.
I Legislative support for tobacco is available
in 10 countries; there is alcohol legislation Major challenges in addressing NCDs
in five countries. Only two countries
Major challenges that need to be overcome
address diet and nutrition and one country
to effectively address NCDs include lack of
addresses physical activity through
strong national partnerships for multisectoral
legislative measures.
actions, weak surveillance systems, limited
I At least one NCD risk-factor survey access to prevention, care and treatment
(national or subnational) has been services for NCDs, limited human resources,
completed in all 11 countries. Surveys for insufficient allocation of funds, and lack of
tobacco use have been done more engagement of the private sector.
frequently compared to other risk factors.
Way forward
Disease-specific morbidity data are
High level of commitment is needed to

generally collected through the routine

reverse the growing burden of NCDs in the
health information system in all 11
Region. Key priorities for tackling NCDs
countries; mortality data are included in
include: (1) reducing risk factors for NCDs
nine countries. Disease registries for NCDs
through multisectoral actions; (2) strengthening
have been most commonly established for
surveillance systems to map the risk, burden
cancers, followed by diabetes and stroke.
and national response, and (3) integrating
Most mortality/morbidity data and disease
NCDs into the primary health care system as a
-specific registries are hospital-based.
step towards universal coverage.

Chapter 1


Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are In 2008, 63% (36 of 57 million) deaths

defined as diseases of long duration, and are worldwide occurred due to NCDs (2). These
generally slow in progression. NCDs are the deaths are distributed widely among people
leading cause of adult mortality and morbidity from high-income to low-income countries.
worldwide. Four main diseases are generally About one-quarter of all NCD deaths were
considered to dominate NCD mortality and below the age of 60, amounting to
morbidity: cardiovascular diseases (including approximately 9 million deaths per year. Ninety
heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancers and percent of premature deaths from NCDs occur
chronic respiratory diseases (including chronic in developing countries. Nearly 80% of NCD
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and deaths (29 million) occur in low- and middle-
asthma). These four NCDs are caused, to a large income countries. The leading causes of NCD
extent, by four modifiable behavioural risk deaths in 2008 were cardiovascular diseases (17
factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical million deaths, or 48% of NCD deaths); cancers
inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. (7.6 million, or 21% of NCD deaths); and
respiratory diseases, including asthma and
NCDs have now reached epidemic
COPD (4.2 million). Diabetes caused an
proportions in many countries. NCDs hit
additional 1.3 million deaths. Over 80% of
hardest at the worlds low- and middle-income
cardiovascular and diabetes deaths, and almost
groups and place a tremendous demand on
90% of deaths from COPD, occurred in low- and
health systems and social welfare, cause
middle-income countries. NCD deaths are
decreased productivity in the workplace,
projected to increase by 15% globally between
prolong disability and diminish resources
2010 and 2020 (to 44 million deaths) and
within families. Globally, NCDs are estimated
annual NCD deaths are projected to rise
to cost more than US$ 30 trillion over the next
substantially, to 52 million by 2030. The
20 years, representing 48% of global gross
greatest increases will be in the WHO regions of
domestic product (GDP) in 2010 (1). NCDs are
Africa, South-East Asia and the Eastern
expected to rise substantially in the coming
Mediterranean, where they will increase by over
decades, partly due to a growing ageing global
20%. NCD mortality already exceeds that of
population. Further, as urbanization and
communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal
globalization increase in the developing world,
conditions, and nutritional deficiencies
there is likely to be an increase in the prevalence
combined in all Regions with the exception of
NCDs. Therefore, unless the NCD epidemic is
the African Region. It is projected that over the
aggressively confronted, the mounting impact
next 20 years, annual infectious disease deaths
of NCDs will continue unabated.
will decline by around 7 million, but annual


cardiovascular disease mortality will increase by Turkey). A number of low- and middle-income
6 million, and annual cancer deaths by 4 countries (e.g. Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey and the
million. By 2030, in low- and middle-income Ukraine) recently increased taxes on tobacco
countries, NCDs will be responsible for three products, generating substantial revenues and
times as many disability adjusted life years saving lives (2).
(DALYs) and nearly five times the mortality
from communicable diseases, as well as from The South-East Asia Region (SEAR)
maternal and perinatal conditions, and suffers from a double disease burden, that of
nutritional deficiencies combined. communicable diseases that remain an
important public health problem, as well as
The good news is that NCDs are largely
NCDs that have emerged as the leading cause of
preventable through interventions and policies
death. The emergence of NCDs as a public
that reduce the major risk factors. Many
health problem in the Region stems mainly
preventive measures are cost-effective,
from epidemiological transition, characterized
including that for low-income countries. NCD
by a change in disease patterns from infectious
prevention can avert millions of deaths and
diseases to NCDs, and from a demographic
reduce billions of dollars in economic losses. A
transition due to increased longevity and a rise
recent WHO report underlines that population-
in ageing population. The challenges in
based measures for reducing tobacco and
addressing NCDs in the Region calls for a
harmful use of alcohol, as well as unhealthy diet
paradigm shift in approach: from a clinical
and physical inactivity, are estimated to cost
approach to a more comprehensive approach;
US$ 2 billion per year for all low- and middle-
from using a biomedical approach to a public
income countries, which translates to less than
health approach and from addressing each NCD
US$ 0.40 per person (3). Numerous options are
separately to collectively addressing a cluster of
available to prevent and control NCDs, such
diseases in an integrated manner.
asthe WHO identified set of interventions called
Best Buys. NCD prevention can be further
This NCD status report describes the
strengthened by implementing programmes
regional burden of NCDs, their risk factors and
aimed at behaviour change among youth and
socio-economic determinants. The report also
adolescents, and more cost-effective models of
summarizes the progress countries are making
care. Cost-effective nutritional policies, such as
for tackling the NCD epidemic, provides the
salt reduction initiatives in the United Kingdom,
base for regional and country responses,
Finland, France, Ireland and Japan, have
highlights some good country practices and
demonstrated positive and measurable results.
recommends the way forward in addressing
Declines in tobacco use prevalence are apparent
NCDs and risk factors in a comprehensive and
in several high-income countries (e.g. Australia,
integrated way. The report is intended for
Canada, Finland, the Netherlands and the
policy-makers in health and development,
United Kingdom). Some low- and middle-
health professionals, researchers and academia,
income countries have also documented decline
and other key stakeholders involved in
in tobacco use prevalence (Mexico, Uruguay and
prevention and control of NCDs.


1. The global economic burden of non-communicable diseases. A report by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard
School of Public Health. September 2011
(accessed 28 December 2011).
2. World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011 (accessed 28 December 2011).
3. World Health Organization. Scaling up action against noncommunicable diseases. How much will it cost? Geneva,
2011 (accessed 28 December 2011).

Chapter 2

Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases

in WHO South-East Asia Region

I Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are top killers in the South-East

Asia Region (SEAR), causing 7.9 million deaths annually; the number
of deaths is expected to increase by 21% over the next decade.
I NCDs kill people at a relatively younger age in SEAR compared to the
rest of the world; one-third (34%) of the 7.9 million deaths in SEAR
occur in those below the age of 60 years compared to 23% in the rest
of the world.
I Cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease and stroke), cancers,
chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes account for the majority of
NCD morbidity and mortality.
I Mortality and morbidity from major NCDs is on the rise and will
continue to be so in the future.

Member States in SEAR* are undergoing This chapter reviews the current burden
epidemiological transition. NCDs are replacing and trends of NCDs in SEAR and provides the
communicable diseases, maternal and child latest estimates and data as reported by
health as well as malnutrition (the primary Member countries. Age- and sex-wise estimates
causes of death until some decades ago) as the of mortality are available; however there is
leading cause of death. NCDs are killing millions limited availability of disaggregated data by
and disproportionately affecting people at a socioeconomic status.
younger age and in poorer sections in this

* Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, India,

Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste

NCD Mortality Region. According to a special survey of deaths

in India (2), NCDs were common both in urban
Of the estimated 14.5 million total deaths and rural areas. In urban areas of India, CVDs,
in 2008 in SEAR, 7.9 million (55%) were due to cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary
NCDs (1). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) alone disease (COPD), ranked first, second and fourth
accounted for 25% of all deaths. Chronic respectively, claiming 33%, 11% and 7.7% of the
respiratory diseases (CRDs), cancers and top 10 causes of deaths. In rural areas, CVDs,
diabetes accounted for 9.6%, 7.8% and 2.1% of COPD and cancers ranked first, second and
all deaths, respectively (1) (Figure 2.1). Other fourth, claiming 23%, 11% and 9% of the top 10
NCDs, such as kidney and liver diseases, causes of deaths. In Sri Lanka, mortality reports
accounted for most of the remaining NCD from hospital-based data showed that 86% of
burden. In nine of the 11 SEAR Member deaths were caused due to NCDs (3). According
countries, the estimated percentage of NCD to the Thailand health profile 20052007, just
deaths out of the total deaths already exceed 16% deaths were due to infectious diseases, 12%
50%, with the highest percentage in Maldives were due to external causes of injuries and 35%
(79%) followed by Thailand (71%) and Sri Lanka due to diseases of the circulatory system
(66%). At present, Timor-Leste and Myanmar (including stroke) and cancers (4).
are the only two countries in this Region where
NCDs are causing deaths among younger
NCDs cause less than 50% deaths (1) (Figure
age groups in this Region compared to most
2.2). In terms of absolute numbers, India and
other parts of the world. Of the 7.9 million
Indonesia together account for 80% of NCD
annual NCD deaths in SEAR, 34% occurred
deaths in SEAR (Annex 1), owing to their large
before the age of 60 years compared to 23% in
population size.
the rest of the world (Figure 2.3), and nearly
NCDs are reported to be the commonest twice as much as in the European Region (16%)
causes of deaths in most countries in the (1). In age groups 4559 years and 6069 years,

Fig 2.1: Estimated percentage of deaths by cause, South-East Asia Region, 2008

NCDs are the

leading cause
Injuries 11%

Cardiovascular of death in
disease 25% the Region

Communicable diseases,
maternal and perinatal Chronic respiratory
conditions, nutritional diseases 9.6%
deficiencies 35%

Cancers 7.8%
Diabetes 2.1%
NCDs 10%

Source: Global Health Observatory. World Health Organization 2011.

Note: percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding off.


Fig 2.2: Estimated percentage of deaths, by cause, Member countries of the South-East Asia
Region, 2008
NCDs account
for more than

half of all deaths

in most SEAR




te ar pa
l sh an ia sia RK a nd s
es nm Ne de ut Ind ne DP
nk ila ive
r a la Bh o La a ld
mo My ng Ind Sri Th Ma
Ti Ba

Noncommunicable Communicable diseases/ Injuries

diseases maternal conditions/
nutritional deficiencies

Source: Global Health Observatory. World Health Organization 2011.

Fig 2.3: Estimated percentage of premature deaths (under 60 years of age), by cause,
South-East Asia Region vs rest of the world, 2008

SEAR has a
50 South-East Asia Region

proportion of
Rest of the world

premature NCD
deaths than the

rest of the world




All NCDs Cancer Diabetes Cardiovascular Chronic
diseases respiratory

Source: Global Health Observatory. World Health Organization 2011.

NCD deaths account for a massive 70% and Similar observations were noted for all
76%, respectively of all deaths (1). This high major NCDs and occur in almost all countries
NCD mortality among the economically of SEAR (Figure 2.3). The proportion of
productive age group is premature and largely premature deaths among those below 60 years
preventable. of age in SEAR was the highest in Bangladesh


38% of deaths were due to NCDs (1). High nutritional conditions would decrease to nearly
premature mortality was noted particularly for one third from 37% to 14% by 2030 (Figure 2.5)
cancer deaths 48% of cancer deaths in the (5). According to the same projections, increase
Region occurred in those below 60 years of age in NCD deaths among males and females would
(Figure 2.3). be 22% and 25%, respectively, in just 11 years
from 2004 to 2015 (5).
NCD death rates vary greatly among SEAR
Member countries (Annex 2). In 2008, Bhutan National surveys from SEAR countries
had the highest age-standardized death rates per also observed a steep increase in the proportion
100 000 population for NCDs among both males of NCDs deaths. In Indonesia, the proportion of
and females (801 in males and 667 in females) NCD deaths increased from 42% in 1995 to 60%
(1). Age-standardized NCD death rates were in 2007 (6) (Figure 2.6). In Sri Lanka, during
higher among males than females for all major the past half-century, the proportion of deaths
NCDs, except for diabetes where males and due to circulatory diseases increased from 3%
females had similar death rates (Figure 2.4). to 24% while those due to communicable
diseases decreased from 24% to 12% (7).

Similar trends have been observed in NCD-

Trends in NCD Mortality and related morbidities. The trend in hospitalization
Morbidity of selected diseases in Sri Lanka showed a steady
increase in major NCD cases during 19702008,
Based on projections made in 2004, NCD
and a reduction in hospitalizations due to
deaths in the Region are likely to increase by
infectious diseases (Figure 2.7). A remarkable
nearly 60%, from 7.9 million to 12.5 million by
increase in hospitalizations for the major NCDs
2030 (5). At the same time, the percentage of
during the past two decades has also been
total deaths due to communicable diseases,
documented in Thailand (Figure 2.8).
maternal and perinatal conditions as well as

Fig 2.4: Age-standardized mortality rates per 100 000 population by sex, South-East Asia
Region, 2008

NCD mortality
800 Male

rates are
Age-standardized death rates per 100 000

higher in males

than females





All NCDs Cardiovascular Cancer Chronic Diabetes
diseases respiratory

Source: Global Health Observatory. World Health Organization 2011.


Bhutan saw a 31% increase in alcohol- Disease-Specific Burden and

related diseases (from 1217 in 2005 to 1602 Trends
cases in 2009); a 20% increase in circulatory
system-related diseases (from 21 345 in 2005 to CVDs, cancers, diabetes and CRDs are the
26 937 cases in 2009); and an alarming 63% four major NCDs that contribute to more than
increase in diabetes (from 944 in 2005 to 2605 80% of NCD deaths in this Region. Significant
in 2009) (8). differentials exist across Member countries in
the burden of these diseases.

Fig 2.5: Trends in estimated percentage of deaths by cause of death, South-East Asia
Region, 2004 and 2030

NCD deaths are

projected to
increase in the
coming years






Communicable NCDs Injuries
and perinatal conditions/
nutritional deficiencies

Mathers CD, Loncar D. Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030. PLoS Medicine 2006, 3(11):e442.

Fig 2.6: Trends in percentage of deaths by cause, Indonesia, 1995-2007

70 Increasing
trend in NCD
HHS 1995

deaths in
HHS 2001
BHR 2007






Maternal and Communicable Noncommunicable Injury
perinatal condition disease disease

HHS: household survey; BHR: basic health research

Source: Ministry of Health, Indonesia, Country Report, March 2011


Fig 2.7: Trends in hospitalization rates per 100 000 population, by selected diseases,
Sri Lanka, 19712008

increase in
Intestinal infectious diseases

Hypertensive diseases

due to NCDs
Ishaemic heart diseases

and reduction
1000 Diabetes mellitus

in infectious
Cases per 100 000














Source: NCD Profile, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka, 2010

Fig 2.8: Trends in hospitalization rates per 100 000 population, by selected diseases,
Thailand, 19852006

increase in
700 Diabetes

Heart diseases
due to NCDs in

Cases per 100 000














Source: Thai Health Profile, 2005-2007

Cardiovascular diseases Of the 7.9 million deaths attributed to

NCDs in SEAR in 2008, 3.6 million (45%) were
CVDs are a group of large number of
due to CVDs (1). The proportion of deaths due to
conditions relating to the heart and blood
CVDs was the lowest in Maldives (34%) and
vessels. The major CVDs include hypertensive
highest in Bhutan (53%). In India, CVDs are the
heart disease, ischaemic heart disease,
leading cause of death in both males and
rheumatic heart disease and cerebrovascular
females and in urban as well as rural areas (2).
disease or stroke.


Types of CVDs vary among countries related death rate increased from 7% to 18%
(Figure 2.9). The commonest CVDs in the during the same period (11). In India, the
Region are ischaemic heart disease, stroke and number of new cases of CVDs is projected to
hypertensive heart disease. Ischaemic heart increase to 64 million in 2015 (from 29 million
disease is the commonest cause of CVD deaths in 2000) (12); and stroke cases to increase to an
in all countries except Thailand where deaths estimated 1.7 million in 2015 (from 1.1 million in
due to cerebrovascular disease (stroke) exceeds 2000) (12).
deaths due to ischaemic heart disease.
CVDs affect younger age-goups in SEAR
than in their counterparts in western countries. Cancers are predicted to become an
For example, CVD mortality in India in the 30 increasingly important cause of morbidity and
59 years age-group is twice than that in the US mortality in the next few decades, all over the
(9). Nearly 52% of CVD deaths in India occur world (13).
below the age of 70 years compared with 23%
In SEAR, 1.1 million people died of cancers
in established market economies (10).
in 2008 (14). Of the 569 000 cancer deaths in
The trends for CVDs in the Region are of males, the commonest sites of cancers were the
concern. For example, in Bangladesh, CVDs lungs (17%, including trachea and bronchus),
were the main cause of death in 2008 27% of followed by mouth and oropharynx (15%), and
all deaths and are projected to rise to 37% by liver (7.5%) (14). Among women, cervical and
2030 (5). DPR Korea reported stroke-related breast cancers accounted for 35% of all cancer
death rate increase from 3.8% to 25% during a deaths (14). The estimated percentage of cancer
30-year period (19601991) and heart-disease- deaths varied from 6.4% in India to 13% in DPR
Korea and Indonesia (1).

Fig 2.9: Percentage of deaths due to CVDs*, by type of CVD, South-East Asia Region, 2008

Other cardiovascular diseases

30 Hypertensive heart disease

Cerebrovascular diseases

25 Ischaemic heart disease




Ischaemic heart
disease is the

commonest type
of CVD death in

most SEAR






Sri Lanka


* CVDs = cardiovascular diseases

Source: Global Health Observatory. World Health Organization 2011. (accessed on 13 May 2011).


Based on country reported data, of the in the Region. Figure 2.10 shows that among
150 000 cancer-related deaths occurring males, lung cancers are most common followed
annually in Bangladesh, more than one half die by oral cancer, while among females, breast and
within five years of diagnosis (15). In India, cervix uteri cancers have the highest incidence.
cancers caused a larger percentage of deaths
There are differences in the incidence of
among females than males in both urban and
various cancers among Member countries.
rural areas during 20012003 (2).
Among women, the incidence of cervical cancer
A large proportion of cancer deaths occur exceeded that of other cancers in Bangladesh,
in the economically productive age group. Fifty- Bhutan, India and Nepal, whereas in
two per cent of cancer deaths among women and DPR Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka
45% of cancer deaths among men occur below and Thailand, breast cancer ranked first. Among
the age of 60 years (1). In a five-city study in men, the incidence of lung cancer was higher
India, nearly 50% of cancer mortality was than that of other cancers in all Member
reported among those below 55 years of age (16). countries except Thailand, where the incidence
of liver cancer was the highest (14).
In addition to high mortality, SEAR has
high cancer-related morbidity. An estimated Data for the period 19842004 from five
1.7 million new cases of cancer occur each year urban and one rural cancer registry in India

Fig 2.10: Incidence of selected cancers per 100 000 population, by sex, South-East Asia
Region, 2008

Incidence/100 000 population

30 20 10 0 10 20 30

Cervix uteri
Lip/oral cavity
Non-Hodgkin lymph
Hodgkins lymphoma
Lung and oral
cancer in males

and breast and

Corpus uteri

cervical cancer in

females are most



Source: GLOBOCAN 2008. International Agency for Research on Cancer and World Health Organization


indicated that, cancers of the prostate, colon, Based on results of the STEPS surveys, the
rectum and liver increased significantly among highest prevalence of diabetes was in Bhutan
males, while cancers of the breast, corpus uteri (12% in males and 13% in females) and the
and lung increased among females (17). lowest in Indonesia and Myanmar (6%7% in
both sexes) (Figure 2.11). There are an
Trends in cancer incidence from seven
estimated 81 million people living with diabetes
major hospitals in Nepal revealed that among
in the Region. According to the International
women breast cancers were common during
Diabetes Federation, estimates were slightly
younger age, cervical cancers were common
lower ranging from 7.0% in the 2079 years age
during middle age and lung cancers during old
group in 2010 to a projected rise to 8.4% in
age. In males, leukaemias and lymphomas
2030 (19). Diabetes prevalence was consistently
occurred more often during youth, lung and
higher among the urban population than those
stomach cancers occurred during middle age,
residing in rural areas. In Bangladesh, diabetes
and cancers of the lung, stomach and larynx
prevalence in urban areas was twice as much as
were common in old age (18).
that in rural areas (8% vs. 4%); in Nepal
The present trend suggests that cancer diabetes prevalence was 3% in rural areas and
incidence is increasing in most Member countries 15% in urban areas (10); in Sri Lanka, diabetes
of the Region. The majority of cases of all cancer prevalence in urban areas was 16.4% while that
types present at a late stage of the disease and in rural areas was 8.7% in 200506 (20).
with complications, which imposes a heavy
Late diagnosis of diabetes is a major
burden on the family and health-care system.
problem in the Region. A Nepal study found
high diabetes prevalence among the elderly, the
Diabetes mellitus
majority of whom were previously undiagnosed
Diabetes is defined as having a fasting (21). In Sri Lanka, one third of those with
plasma glucose value 7 mmol/l (126 mg/dl) or diabetes were undiagnosed (20). In a national
being on medication for raised blood glucose. sample of 24 417 persons over 15 years of age in
Uncontrolled diabetes increases risk of CVD and urban Indonesia, undiagnosed diabetes mellitus
can lead to retinopathy, nephropathy and was present in 4.2% and impaired glucose
gangrene, among other conditions (13). tolerance (IGT) was present in 10.2%. IGT
prevalence was 5.3% in the youngest age group
Diabetes is growing significantly in SEAR
(1524 years) (22).
countries, placing enormous restrictions on
those who suffer this lifelong disease. An An increasing trend in diabetes prevalence
estimated 305 000 deaths were attributed to has been reported from several countries. In
diabetes alone in 2008; the number of deaths Bangladesh, prevalence increased threefold,
were slightly more among males than females from 2.3% in the 1999 to 6.8% in 2004 (23).
(1). Diabetes specific death rates vary Age-standardized diabetes prevalence in a rural
enormously across countries in SEAR from 56 area in Sri Lanka increased from 2.5% in 1990
per 100 000 population in Thailand to 5.8 per to 8.5% in 2000 (24). In India, diabetes
100 000 in the Maldives (1). DPR Korea, prevalence in urban areas increased tenfold
Indonesia and Thailand showed substantially from 1.2% to 12.1% during 19712000 (25,26)
higher deaths attributed to diabetes among while that in rural areas trebled from 2.2% to
females than males (Annex 1; 1). 6.4% in just 14 years during 19892003 (27).


Fig 2.11: Percentage of adult population with raised blood glucose level*, South-East Asia
Region, 2008

Nearly one in
10 adults in the
Region has

raised blood








Sri Lanka


* Fasting glucose >7.0 mmol/L or on medication for diabetes

Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011
Note: Data adjusted for 2008 for comparability

According to the national Thailand health Timor-Leste to 11% in India). Age-standardized

survey, mean fasting blood sugar among those death rates of CRDs were lowest in DPR Korea
aged 3559 years increased from 87 mg/dl in (60 per 100 000 population) and highest in
1991 to 92 mg/dl in 1996, to 100 mg/dl in 2004 India (154 per 100 000 population) (1).
According to national reports from
Chronic Respiratory Diseases Thailand, asthma prevalence was estimated at
4 million cases affecting 6.8% of the adult
Chronic respiratory diseases narrow air population (29). Nation-wide asthma
passages of the lungs and obstruct breathing, prevalence in Indonesia was reported to be 4%
thereby severely affecting quality of life. Major in 2007 (30). For 2011, the projected prevalence
chronic respiratory diseases include COPD, rate of chronic asthma in India in the age group
asthma and occupational lung disease. These 1559 years is 19 per 1000 population in urban
diseases can affect all age groups and are not areas and 26 per 1000 in rural areas; and the
predominant in old age unlike many other total number of chronic asthma cases is nearly
NCDs. Most CRDs are preventable and curable. 32 million (31).
Yet, an estimated 1.4 million people died of
CRDs in SEAR in 2008; of these, 86% deaths Statistics on CRDs in SEAR are generally
were due to COPD and 7.8% due to asthma (1). limited. Consequently, the true burden of CRDs
is not appreciated. Intensive efforts are required
In the Region, CRDs accounted for an to generate robust data on CRDs.
estimated 9.6% of all deaths in 2008 (3.6% in


Other NCDs disease and 0.15% of stage-V chronic kidney

disease (35).
Besides the major NCDs, many other
chronic conditions and diseases contribute The most common liver diseases are
significantly to the burden of disease on hepatitis, cirrhosis and carcinomas. Cirrhosis
individuals and families. Particularly significant can affect all age groups but is more commonly
in the Region are chronic kidney disease, seen among men aged 4569 years. The
chronic liver disease and thalassaemia. problem is particularly severe in SEAR with
about 284 000 cirrhosis deaths constituting
Chronic kidney disease is a slow
nearly 30% of global deaths (1). Hepatitis B
progressing disease and usually takes many
virus and Hepatitis C virus are significant
years to manifest clinically. This also is an
contributors to liver disease in this Region.
under-diagnosed disease resulting in lost
opportunities for prevention. A significant Maldives has the highest prevalence of
number of people are affected by chronic kidney thalassaemia in the world with a carrier rate of
disease in the Region. In a Bangladesh slum 18% (36). The average frequency of -
(n=1000) 16% had chronic kidney disease (32). thalassaemia in India is 3%4% although it
In a large cross-sectional study (n=3398), of the greatly varies across the country (37). In
apparently healthy Indian central government Indonesia, the carrier frequency of thalassemia
employees 18 years, nearly 15% were in early in some areas was 6%10% (38). Bangladesh
stages of chronic kidney disease (33). Data has a 7% thalassemia carrier rate which equals
obtained from various nephrology centres in more than 10 million people; and 7000 babies
Indonesia showed that incidence and are born each year with thalassemia (39). These
prevalence of end-stage renal disease in Java data suggest that screening and genetic
and Bali are increasing over time (34). In counseling for haemoglobinopathies should be
Thailand, a nationally representative sample (of integrated into the health care system in
3117 people aged 15 years) showed 8.1% Member countries of SEAR so as to avert
prevalence of stage-III chronic kidney disease exhorbitant treatment costs as well as human
in 2004, 0.2% of stage-IV chronic kidney suffering.


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22 September 2011).

Chapter 3

Risk Factors

I Four behavioural risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical

inactivity and harmful use of alcohol) are largely responsible for
majority of the NCDs.
I Behavioural risk factors lead to four key metabolic changes:
overweight/obesity; raised blood pressure; raised blood glucose; and
raised blood cholesterol.
I Behavioural and metabolic risk factors are highly prevalent in the
Region and on the rise.
I Hypertension, raised blood glucose and tobacco use are the top three
risk factors responsible for 3.5 million deaths in the Region every

The four major NCDs namely CVDs, followed by raised blood glucose (6.8%),
diabetes, cancers and CRDs share four tobacco use (6.8%), physical inactivity (5.1%)
common behavioural risk factors that account and raised cholesterol (4.9%) (1) (Figure 3.2).
for the majority of NCD deaths (Figure 3.1) (1). High blood pressure, tobacco use and high
These modifiable behavioural risk factors are blood sugar together account for approximately
tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity 3.5 million deaths each year in the Region.
and harmful use of alcohol. These behaviours in
This chapter provides evidence that NCD
turn lead to four key metabolic changes:
risk factors are widely prevalent in this Region.
overweight/obesity, raised blood pressure,
Data on risk factors are generated from WHO-
raised blood sugar and raised blood cholesterol
STEPS surveys (2) and reported as age
(hyper-lipidaemia). The highest number of
standardized rates in WHOs Global status
deaths in SEAR are attributed to raised blood
report on noncommunicable diseases 2010 (3).
pressure accounting for 9.4% of all deaths,


Fig 3.1: Shared risk factors for major noncommunicable diseases

4 modifiable
Tobacco Unhealthy Physical Harmful use shared risk
use diet inactivity of alcohol
factors cause
Cardiovascular     4 major NCDs
diseases which account
Noncommunicable diseases

Diabates     for 80% of all

(Type II) NCD deaths

Fig 3.2: Estimated number of attributable deaths by risk factor, South-East Asia
Region, 2004


high blood
glucose and
Number of attributable deaths (000s)

1500 tobacco use are

top three risk
factors for death


High blood glucose

of alcohol

and obesity
Unsafe water,
sanitation, hygiene


Childhood and
maternal underweight

High cholesterol
Physical activity
Tobacco use

Indoor smoke
from solid fuels

Low fruit and

vegetable intake
High blood pressure

Harmful use

Risk factors

Source: Global health risks: mortality and burden of diseases attributable to selected major risks.
Geneva: World Health Organization, 2009.

Behavioural Risk Factors wide range of diseases that impact nearly every
organ of the body. Second-hand smoke also has
Tobacco use serious and often fatal health consequences; it
has many different chemicals, 50 of which are
Tobacco use is the single-most preventable
known to be associated with cancer (5).
cause of death in the world today. Tobacco is the
only legal consumer product that kills up to half Tobacco use is a serious public health
of those who use it (4). Tobacco use causes a concern in the Region where about 1 million


tobacco-related deaths occur every year (1). It is consumption is now prevalent throughout the
estimated that by 2030 tobacco use will account Region. The misconception about tobacco being
for more deaths than total deaths from malaria, good for oral health, has been used as an
maternal conditions and injuries combined (6). advantage by the tobacco industry, which has
Tobacco-related illnesses, such as cancers as produced tobacco products, such as dentifrice,
well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases most common in India and Bangladesh in
are already major problems in most Member different forms such as gul, gudaku, bajjar,
countries of the Region. Four countries of SEAR tapkir, lal dantmanjan.
Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand
The use of smokeless tobacco products
are among the top 20 tobacco-producing
among children, youth and women has
countries in the world (7). The Region also has
increased in recent times in the Region, mainly
some of the highest tobacco consuming
because of lack of adequate knowledge about
countries in the world India and Indonesia
the addictive and harmful effects of smokeless
are among the top ten tobacco consuming
tobacco. Additionally, aggressive marketing by
countries in the world (8).
the tobacco industry, easy accessibility to and
Types of tobacco products consumed lower prices of smokeless tobacco products have
in the Region contributed to their widespread use in the
Both smoking and smokeless types of Region (8).
tobacco products are used in the Region. The Tobacco use among adults
poorer sections of the population in this Region
smoke low-cost indigenous products, such as The prevalence of tobacco use varies
bidis (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka), significantly across the Member countries of the
cheroots (Myanmar) and roll-your-own Region. Smoking is higher among men while
cigarettes (Thailand). Manufactured cigarettes women usually take to chewing tobacco. The
are the preferred choice of the upper class in the prevalence of current use of any smoked
Region. Clove cigarettes called kreteks are tobacco ranges from 26% (India) to 61%
popular in Indonesia. Other forms of smoking (Indonesia) in males and from less than 1% (Sri
products used in Region are dhumti, chuttas, Lanka) to 29% (Nepal) among females. The
chillums, hookah, pipes and cigars (8). prevalence of daily cigarette smoking among
males ranges from 7% (India) to 53% (DPR
Smokeless tobacco products are used in Korea). The prevalence of smokeless tobacco
various ways chewing, sucking and applying product use among males ranges from 1.3%
tobacco preparations to the teeth and gums. The (Thailand) to 51.4% (Myanmar); in females
commonly used smokeless form of tobacco in prevalence of smokeless tobacco product use
the Region is tobacco with betel quid (known as ranges from 4.6% (Nepal) to 27.9%
paan in India, Bangladesh and Nepal; kwanya (Bangladesh) (Table 3.1). Overall, tobacco use
in Myanmar and sirih in Indonesia). Tobacco among males is higher than among their female
and lime mixture (known as khaini or surti in counterparts in all Member countries of the
India and khoinee in Bangladesh) is another Region.
common tobacco product that is either
Tobacco use among students aged 1315
manufactured or prepared by the users
themselves. Gutkha, a manufactured tobacco
mixed with betel nut and other additives, is The findings of the Global Youth Tobacco
popular among youth in India and gutkha Survey (GYTS) reveal a high prevalence of


Table 3.1: Prevalence of tobacco use, among adults by sex, South-East Asia Region, 20062009

Age-standardized prevalence of smoking Prevalence of smokeless


Males Females Total Males Females Total Males Females Total Year
Bangladesh 42 2 22 46 2 24 26.4 27.9 27.2 2009
Bhutan - - - - - - 21.1** 17.3** 19.4** 2007
DPR Korea 53 - - 57 - - N.A. N.A.
India 20 3 12 26 4 15 32.9 18.4 25.9 2009
Indonesia 54 4 29 61 5 33 N.A. N.A.
Maldives 38 9 24 43 11 27 N.A. N.A.
Myanmar 31 6 18 40 8 24 51.4 16.1 29.6 2009
Nepal 30 25 28 36 29 32 31.2 4.6 18.6 2008
Sri Lanka 21 <1 11 27 0.4 14 24.9*** 6.9*** 15.8*** 2006
Thailand 39 2 20 45 3 24 1.3 6.3 3.9 2009
Timor-Leste N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A. N.A.
N.A. = Not available
* WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011: warning about the dangers of tobacco.
**NCD Risk factor Survey, MOH Bhutan, 2007
***NCD Risk factor Survey, MOH Sri Lanka, 2006

tobacco use among youth in the Region. The current cigarette smoking prevalence showed a
current use of any form of tobacco ranges from significant decline from 10.2% in 2001 to 4.9%
8.5% (Maldives) to 55% (Timor-Leste) among in 2007. This decline was observed in both boys
boys and from 3.4% (Maldives) to 30% (Timor- (19% in 2001; 8.5% in 2007) and girls (3.2% in
Leste) among girls (Figure 3.3). The exceedingly 2001; 1.3% in 2007). However, prevalence of
high tobacco use prevalence among youth in current use of other tobacco products showed a
Timor-Leste underscores their vulnerability to notable increase from 5.7% in 2001 to 14% in
NCDs in the future. The smoking rate among 2007. This increase was observed in both boys
students aged 1315 years is higher among boys (9% in 2001; 20% in 2007) and girls (3.1% in
than girls (8). 2001; 7.9% in 2007) (Figure 3.5) (11).

Trends in tobacco use Tobacco consumption and educational

Increasing smoking prevalence is a
concern in Indonesia where smoking prevalence An inverse relationship has been observed
among male youths more than doubled from between tobacco use and education. Bangladesh
14% in 1995 to 33% in 2004. Smoking GATS 2009 revealed that the prevalence of
prevalence among young females in Indonesia, current use of any smoked tobacco product is
although low, increased from 0.3% to 1.9% highest among those who had no formal
during the same period (Figure 3.4) (9). education (31%) and lowest among those who
had secondary education and above (14%) (12).
In Sri Lanka, current cigarette smoking Similarly, the prevalence of current use of any
prevalence decreased from 4% in 1999 to 2.4% smokeless tobacco product was highest among
in 2003 to 1.2% in 2007 (10). In Myanmar, those who had no formal education (42%) and


Fig 3.3: Prevalence of current tobacco use among students aged 1315 years by sex, South-
East Asia Region, 20062009
60 Variable, but
high tobacco

use among

youth in the
40 Region








Sri Lanka

Country and year of survey

Source: Global Youth Tobacco Surveys in Member countries of South-East Asia Region

Fig 3.4: Prevalence of smoking among students aged 1519 years, by sex, Indonesia,

Smoking among
Indonesian boys
has more than
40 Boys

doubled over a

Both sexes





1995 2001 2004

Sources: National Socio-Economic Survey 1995, 2001, 2004. Ministry of Health Indonesia

lowest among those who had secondary schooling (68% in males; 33% in females) and
education and above (10%). India GATS (2009) lowest prevalence among those who had
revealed the highest prevalence of current use secondary education and above (31% in males;
of any tobacco among those who had no formal 3.6% in females) (Figure 3.6) (13). Similarly,


Fig 3.5: Prevalence of current tobacco use among students aged 13-15 years, by sex,
Myanmar, 2001 and 2007

25 2001
Current cigarette smoker Current user of other
tobacco products 2007




Reduction in

smoking but
increase in use
of other tobacco
Boys Girls Boys Girls

Source: Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2001 and 2007, Myanmar

Fig 3.6: Percentage of adults, who are current users of tobacco products, by education,
India, 2009

80 Male The less

educated are
more likely to

60 use tobacco





No formal Less than Primary but Secondary
schooling primary less than and above

Source: India Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2009

Thailand GATS (2009) revealed a higher than in those who had university level education
prevalence of current use of any smoked (14%) (14). In Sri Lanka, least-educated males
tobacco product among those who had less than were twice as likely to smoke as most-educated
primary (24%) and primary (29%) education males (15). In Indonesia, smoking prevalence
among men who had not completed elementary


school was 72% compared with 50% among of smoked tobacco products used also differed
men who had completed a bachelors degree between urban and rural smokers; the results
(16). showed a higher prevalence of manufactured
cigarettes use in urban areas than in rural areas
Tobacco consumption and place of
(18% and 14%, respectively) and a higher
prevalence of hand-rolled cigarettes use in rural
Bangladesh GATS (2009) revealed that a areas as against urban areas (18% and 6%
much higher percentage of people in rural areas respectively) (14).
(14%) smoke bidis than those in urban areas
(4.7%) while the prevalence of cigarette Tobacco consumption and poverty
smoking was higher in urban areas (18%) than As per Bangladesh GATS (2009), the
in rural areas (13%) (12). Another study from prevalence of current use of any smoked
Bangladesh revealed that 60% men living in tobacco product and any smokeless tobacco
slums smoked compared with 46% men living product decreased with increasing wealth index,
in non-slum areas (17). In India, the prevalence with the highest prevalence in the lowest wealth
of current tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) index (29% and 36%, respectively) and lowest
is greater in rural areas (38%) than in urban prevalence in the highest wealth index (14% and
areas (25%). Similarly, the prevalence of current 17%, respectively) (Figure 3.7) (12). Studies
smokeless tobacco use is much higher in rural from other sources also revealed consistent
areas (23%) than urban areas (14%) (13). As per results. Tobacco consumption is now
Thailand GATS (2009), the prevalence of any universally more common among lower
smoked tobacco product among the rural socioeconomic groups (18). In a survey of 471
population was slightly higher than that for the 143 persons of age >10 years in India in the year
urban population (25% and 22%) (14). The type 19951996, people below the poverty line had

Fig 3.7: Percentage of adults, who are current users of tobacco products, by wealth index,
Bangladesh, 2009

Tobacco use is
40 Any smoked tobacco product
Any smokeless tobacco product
among the

30 poorest




Lowest Low Middle High Highest
Wealth index

Source: Bangladesh Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2009


higher relative odds of chewing tobacco of eating inadequate (less than five servings)
compared to those above the poverty line, and fruits and vegetables ranges from 60% to 97%
regular tobacco use significantly increased with in males and 64% to 94% in females. In five of
each diminishing income quintile (19). In eight Member countries for which data are
Indias National Family Health Survey (NFHS available, the prevalence of inadequate fruits
II), prevalence among those in the richest and vegetable consumption was higher among
quintile was 16% compared to 40% among the females than males (Table 3.2). Considering the
poorest quintile (20). Prevalence of tobacco low socioeconomic conditions and poor level of
chewing among women labourers in Dharan, awareness in a large segment of the population
Nepal (22%), was twice as much as the in this Region, the findings that the vast
prevalence among service class women (10%) majority of the population eats less than five
(21). The National Socio-Economic Survey 1995, servings of fruits and vegetables a day is not
2001, 2004 for Indonesia revealed an increased surprising (Table 3.2). A major hindrance in
proportion of household expenditure spending shifting to a healthy diet in this Region could be
on tobacco products across all wealth quintiles the high cost of fruits and vegetables relative to
(6.4% in 1995; 9.6% in 2001; 12% in 2004). the income level of the population.
However, a greater percentage of people in the
There is evidence of high consumption of
poorest quintile (6.1% in 1995; 9.1% in 2001;
salt in many countries. High salt consumption is
11% in 2004) spent their household expenditure
associated with hypertension and adverse
on tobacco products than people in the
cardiovascular events (23). According to the
wealthiest quintile (4.9% in 1995; 7.5% in 2001;
National Heart Foundation Hospital and
9.7% in 2004).
Research Institute, Bangladesh, an average
Bangladeshi consumes around 16 g of salt per
Unhealthy diet
day almost triple the recommended limit
Due to globalization and urbanization, (24). In Thailand, the average consumption of
there is a shift from a healthy traditional high- salt per day among adults is 10.8 g (25). The
fibre, low-fat, low-calorie diet containing whole Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study
grains as well as fruits and vegetables, towards (CURES) conducted on 1902 subjects showed
calorie-dense foods that are high in saturated that the mean dietary salt intake (8.5 g/d) in the
fats, transfats, free sugars or salt. Foods that population (26) was higher than that
are high in fats and sugars promote obesity, a recommended by WHO for adults (5 g or less).
major risk factor for CVDs, diabetes and cancers Subjects in the highest quintile (mean salt
(22). Consumption of adequate servings of food intake=13.8 g/d) of salt intake had a
and vegetables on the other hand reduce the risk significantly higher prevalence of hypertension
of heart disease and some cancers. With regards than those in the lowest quintile (mean salt
to unhealthy diet, three areas of particular intake = 4.9 g/d) of salt intake (48% vs 17%,
concern in the Region are low intake of fruits p<0.0001). Subjects in the highest quintile of
and vegetables, high consumption of salt and salt intake also had significantly higher body
widespread use of transfat by the food industry. mass index (BMI) and waist circumference
(WC). The total calories and percentage of
Half a million deaths in the Region are
calories from fat also increased significantly
attributed to low intake of fruits and vegetables
across increasing quintiles of salt intake.
(1). In SEAR Member countries, the prevalence


Table 3.2 Percentage of male and female adults eating less than five
servings of fruits and vegetables, South-East Asia Region, 20042010

Member countries Male (%) Female (%) Both sexes (%) Year of survey

Bangladesh 94 93 93 2010

Bhutan 65 69 67 2007

India NR NR 86 2007-08

Indonesia 94 94 94 2007

Maldives 97 93 97 2004

Myanmar 90 91 90 2009

Nepal 61 64 62 2007

Sri Lanka 81 83 82 2007

Thailand 83 82 82 2005

Total (Range) 6597 6493 6297

Source: National NCD risk-factor surveys in Member countries

Another area of concern is that partially Physical inactivity

hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are
Lack of physical activity contributes
associated with coronary heart disease (27) are
significantly to overweight and obesity, which is
commonly used in the preparation of
a risk factor for many NCDs. Participation in
commercially fried, processed, bakery, ready-
150 minutes of moderate to vigourous physical
to-eat and street foods in the Region. In India,
activity per week is estimated to reduce the risk
vanaspati brands, widely available in the
of ischaemic heart disease by 30%, the risk of
market used in the food industry (28), have
diabetes by 27%, and the risk of breast and
512 times higher trans fatty acid (TFA) levels
colon cancer by 21%25% (32).
than the 2% limit set by some developed
countries (29). In Thailand, samples collected In SEAR, 5.1% of deaths are the
from supermarkets and popular bakery stores attributable to physical inactivity (Annex 4) (1).
showed that shortenings (2.4 g), butter cookies This translates to nearly 800 000 deaths in the
(2.1 g) and margarine (1.7 g) contained highest Region per year (1). In SEAR countries, the
quantities of TFA per 100 g of food (30). prevalence of insufficient physical activity
Available regional data confirm current varied from 3% to 41% among males and from
evidence that higher intake of TFA may be 6.6% to 64% among females. The highest
associated with increased risk of coronary heart prevalence in both males and females was in
disease. A case-control study (n=3575) carried Bhutan (41% and 64%, respectively), followed
out in India (1996) showed that ghee (clarified by Maldives (37% and 42%, respectively). In
butter) plus TFA in both rural and urban areas eight of nine SEAR countries for which data are
were significantly associated with coronary available, prevalence of insufficient physical
artery disease (31). activity was higher among females than males.


Indonesia was the only exception. No data were followed by Nepal (17%). In eight countries for
available for DPR Korea and Timor-Leste which data were available, prevalence of alcohol
(Figure 3.8) consumption was higher among males than
females. No data were available for Maldives,
Harmful use of alcohol Thailand and Timor-Leste (Figure 3.9).

Alcohol is a psychoactive and potentially Evidence suggests that low socioeconomic

dependence-producing substance with severe groups often experience a higher burden of
health and social consequences when taken in alcohol-attributable diseases despite lower
excess. Harmful use of alcohol caused overall consumption levels (34).
2.5 million deaths each year globally in 2004
and an estimated 350 000 people died in SEAR A recent study from Sri Lanka found that
of alcohol-related causes in 2004 (1). two lowest income categories spent 40% of their
income on alcohol and smoking (35). Many
Across countries and cultures men are poor people in this Region indulged in binge
consistently more likely to consume alcohol drinking, so much so that almost nothing was
frequently and in larger amounts than women left from household expenditure to meet the
(33). The results of the STEPS survey confirm necessities of life such as food and shelter.
this sex differential. In SEAR Member countries, Health, particularly the preventive and
the prevalence of alcohol consumption varied promotive aspects, always receives low priority
from 2% to 44% among males and from 0.1% to in this segment of the population.
26% among females. The highest prevalence
among males was in DPR Korea (44%), followed In Bhutan, little stigma is attached to
by Nepal (40%) and Bhutan (35%). The highest alcohol use (36) and thus the usual barriers and
prevalence among females was in Bhutan (26%), deterrents to alcohol use inherent in some

Fig 3.8: Percentage of adults with insufficient physical activity*, South-East Asia Region,

Many people
are not
60 physically





Bangladesh Bhutan India Indonesia Maldives Myanmar Nepal Sri Lanka Thailand

Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011.
Data adjusted for 2008 based for comparability

* Less than 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity at least five days a week.


Fig 3.9: Percentage of adults consuming alcohol*, by sex, South-East Asia Region,

50 Males

consumption is

40 higher in males
than females



Bangladesh Bhutan DPR Korea India Indonesia Myanmar Nepal Sri Lanka
2010 2007 2008 2007 2007 2009 2007 2007

Source: National NCD risk-factor surveys in Member countries

* People who have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.

societies are not as apparent here. Until recently with BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered
it was not taboo for Bhutanese children to drink overweight and 30.0 is considered obese.
at an early age and many women drink beer and Truncal obesity is defined in terms of waisthip
wine. Studies in the country have shown that (or waistheight) ratio. Raised BMI is among
50% of the grain harvests of households are the leading risk factors for NCDs. It accentuates
used to brew alcohol; homemade alcohol early development of type 2 diabetes and CVDs
production exceeds industrial production. by triggering metabolic dysfunctions and raising
Alcohol production and sale has become a blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol
livelihood for a large number of people in levels. Overweight and obesity are the fifth
Bhutan. In certain areas, homemade alcohol is leading risk for global deaths. Globally, at least
the only source of cash income to farmers. 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of
Alcohol is one of the five leading causes of death being overweight or obese (1). Annually,
in Bhutan (36). 350 000 deaths are attributed to overweight
and obesity in SEAR (1).
Relatively few people in Bangladesh and
Indonesia drink alcohol. This may be a due to In SEAR Member countries, overweight
the cultural setup in these countries. prevalence varied from 8% to 30% among males
and 8% to 52% among females. The highest
prevalence in both males and females was in
Metabolic Risk Factors Maldives (30% and 52%, respectively) followed
by Thailand (26% and 36%, respectively). In
eight of nine SEAR countries for which data
Overweight and obesity
were available, prevalence of overweight and
Overweight and obesity is defined based obesity was higher among females. Nepal was
on body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated as the only exception. No data were available for
(weight in kg)/(height in metres)2. A person DPR Korea and Timor-Leste (Table 3.3).


Table 3.3 Percentage of adult population that is overweight and obese,

South-East Asia Region, 2008
Overweight (BMI>25 kg/m2) Overweight (BMI>30 kg/m2)

Member countries Male Female Both sexes Male Female Both sexes

Bangladesh 7.6 7.8 7.7 1.0 1.3 1.1

Bhutan 25 24 24 4.7 6.6 5.5
India 10 13 11 1.3 2.5 1.9
Indonesia 16 25 21 2.5 6.9 4.7
Maldives 29 53 41 6.5 26 16
Myanmar 14 24 19 2.0 6.1 4.1
Nepal 9.8 8.9 9 1.4 1.6 1.5
Sri Lanka 17 27 22 2.6 7.3 5.0
Thailand 26 36 31 4.9 12 8.5

Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011.
Data adjusted for 2008 for comparability

Childhood obesity is an emerging issue. In Among Thai adults, the prevalence of

a Mysore (India) study on 43 152 school obesity increased from 23% in 2004 to 29% in
children, obesity and overweight prevalence was 2009 among males and from 35% in 2004 to
3.4% and 8.5%, respectively (37). In a school 41% in 2009 among females. Waist
survey of 2156 children aged 1015 years in circumference also showed an increase among
Khon Kaen (Thailand) 28% were overweight both males and females during the same period
(38). (40) (Figure 3.10).

Data from eight Demographic and Health In general, obesity is more common in the
Surveys conducted between 1996 and 2006 higher socioeconomic strata of society.
(19 211 women in Bangladesh, 19 354 women in Indonesian adolescents from families with high
Nepal, and 161 755 women in India) showed income were three times as likely to be obese
that between the first to the latest survey, the (41). In Thailand though obesity was strongly
prevalence of overweight increased from 2.7% associated with high socioeconomic status in
to 8.9% in Bangladesh, 1.6% to 10% in Nepal males but inversely in females, particularly for
and from 11% to 15% in India. The trend showed those below 40 years (42). In Jaipur (India),
significant ruralurban differences with the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among
increase being greater in rural compared with adults of age 2059 years was 9.5% in persons
urban areas in all three countries (41). On with low education and 17% in persons with
comparing the first to the latest survey, the high education (43). However, a recent review
prevalence of obesity also increased from 0.5% of relationship between socioeconomic status
to 1.4% in Bangladesh, from 0.1% to 1.1% in and obesity in 14 lower- to middle-income
Nepal, and from 2.2% to 3.4% in India. In all countries including India showed that the
countries, the prevalence of overweight was burden of obesity is shifting towards individuals
positively associated with age, increasing of lower socioeconomic status as a countrys
relative wealth and urban residence (39). gross national product increases (44). A recent


Fig 3.10: Percentage of overweight adult population, by sex, Thailand, 20042009

50 Overweight Waist circumference 2004

BMI 25 kg/m 90.8 cm





obesity in
Male Female Male Female Thailand

Source: National Health Examination Surveys, 2004 and 2009

study that examined data from 26 developing conducted in 2005 in Health and Demographic
countries including South-East Asia found a Surveillance System (HDSS) sites from
higher prevalence of overweight than of Bangladesh (Matlab, Mirsarai, Abhoynagar, and
underweight among young women living in WATCH), India (Vadu), Indonesia (Purworejo),
rural and urban areas (45). Thailand (Kanchanaburi) and Viet Nam
(Filabavi and Chililab) revealed that a
Raised blood pressure considerable proportion of the study
Raised blood pressure (BP) is a major risk populations, especially those in the HDSS sites
factor for coronary heart disease as well as from India, Indonesia and Thailand had high
haemorrhagic stroke. Hypertension* is BP. The overall prevalence (men and women
responsible for nearly 1.5 million deaths in combined) ranged from around 15% to 28% of
SEAR (Annex 4). In a majority of countries of the adult population with one exception where
SEAR, more than one third of the adult prevalence was 9% (one of the HDSS in
population is hypertensive. Males have a slightly Bangladesh) (46).
higher prevalence of raised BP than females in In a recent study on 167 331 persons from
almost all SEAR countries (Figure 3.11). In the a rural area of Trivandrum (India), BP 140/90
10 countries for which data were available, the (either) mmHg was found in 43% men and 45%
prevalence of high BP ranged from 19% in women of age 3589 years (47). A seven-year
DPR Korea to 42% in Myanmar (Figure 3.11). average follow-up study showed an accelerated
No data were available from Timor-Leste. rise of all-cause mortality and ischaemic heart
Literature review also suggests that high disease mortality in the population with systolic
BP is indeed widespread in this Region. A study BP110 mmHg and diastolic BP80 mmHg.

* Systolic BP>40 mmHg and stroke or diastolic BP>90 mmHg or using medication
to lower BP


Fig 3.11: Percenatge of adult population with high blood pressure*, South-East Asia Region,

High blood
pressure is
50 Males Females

common in
40 both sexes




Sri Lanka**
DPR Korea*




Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011.
Data adjusted for 2008 for comparability

* Systolic BP>40 mmHg and stroke or diastolic BP>90 mmHg or using medication to lower BP

Stroke mortality started to increase after sites in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand
diastolic BP75 mmHg. Rise in mortality was and Viet Nam, age appeared to be a significant
relatively steeper for incremental systolic BP determinant of high BP among both men and
(2 mmHg) than for incremental diastolic BP (1 women and overweight was positively
mmHg). In a survey of 4616 persons aged 20 or associated with high BP in all sites (46).
more in Yangon (Myanmar) in 2003,
prevalence of hypertension was 34% (48). Raised cholesterol
National data from some countries Raised cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
indicate an increasing trend in the prevalence is widespread in SEAR and accounts for nearly
of raised BP. In Indonesia, percentage of adult 800 000 deaths annually (Annex 4). Raised
population with raised BP increased from 8% in cholesterol increases the risk of CVDs (52). This
1995 to 32% in 2008 (49). In Myanmar, the was also noted in studies conducted in the
Ministry of Health reported an increase in Region. For example, high levels of serum total
hypertension prevalence, from 18% to 31% in cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL)
males and from 16% to 29% in females (50). cholesterol presented a significantly higher risk
during 20042009. Rapid urbanization and of ischaemic stroke in Bangladesh (53) and
transition from agrarian life to wage-earning, Indonesia (54).
modern city life are reported as major
Estimates available from six SEAR
contributors to increases in elevated BP in
Member countries showed remarkable
urban areas (51). In a study conducted in HDSS


variations in raised cholesterol levels, with the actions when two or more are simultaneously
highest prevalence (above 50% in both sexes) in present in the same person. Because of
Maldives and Thailand. Females had a higher clustering, the term metabolic syndrome is
prevalence of raised cholesterol than males in often used to describe the risk factor cluster of
five of six SEAR Member countries (Figure large waistline, high BP, raised blood sugar
3.12). level, low high density lipoprotein (HDL) level
and high triglyceride level. When occurring
In a rural population in Bangladesh,
together, they form a risky combination for the
hypercholesterolaemia (total cholesterol 240
development of NCDs. Metabolic syndrome
mg/dL) was found in 16% and high LDL
prevalence is high in the Region, e.g. in rural
cholesterol in 20% (55) in the age group 2079
Bangladesh, it was found in 21% women and
years. Different ethnic groups in Indonesia were
18% men (58). Among Indians, metabolic
found to have varying lipid profiles (56). In a
syndrome was prevalent in 19% males with
community in eastern Nepal, 13% had
higher educational status and 25% in those with
hypercholesterolemia in the age group 3586
lower educational status (59). Females had
years (57).
higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome and
similar trends with respect to education as
Cluster of risk factors
among men (59). In Sri Lanka, 62% of current
NCD risk factors are known to result in smokers were also alcohol consumers (60).
accentuated outcomes through synergistic Findings from a study conducted among 18 494

Fig 3.12: Percentage of adult population with raised total cholesterol, South-East Asia
Region, 2008

One third to one

half of adults
60 Males Females

have raised
50 cholesterol









Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011.
Data adjusted for 2008 for comparability


study participants in HDSS sites in Bangladesh, About one fifth of the cancer burden is
India, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam, attributable to a few specific chronic infections
revealed a substantial proportion (>70%) of the (61). The principal infectious agents (each
largely rural populations having three or more responsible for approximately 5% of cancers)
risk factors for chronic NCDs. Chronic NCD risk are human papillomavirus (cancers of the
factor clustering was associated with increasing cervix, anogenital tract and oro-pharynx),
age, being male and higher educational hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus (primary
achievements (46). liver cancers), and Helicobacter pylori (cancers
of the stomach).
Other risk factors
Apart from infectious agents, a wide range
While the risk factors discussed above are of environmental causes, encompassing
major contributors to NCDs, other factors also environmental contaminants or pollutants,
play a role. Prominent among them are occupationally-related exposures and radiation,
infections, environmental factors such as together make a significant contribution to
pollution and arsenic, and exposures such as to cancer burden and are often modifiable at low
asbestos. Stress may also act as a trigger for cost (3).
some NCDs.

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55. Mostafa Zaman M et al. Plasma lipids in a rural population of Bangladesh. European Journal of Cardiovascular
Prevention and Rehabilitation 2006;13:444-8.
56. Hatma RD. Lipid profiles among diverse ethnic groups in Indonesia. Acta Medica Indonesiana 2011;43:4-11.


57. Kalra S et al. Prevalence of risk factors for coronary artery disease in the community in eastern Nepala pilot study.
The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 2011;59:300-1.
58. Khanam MA et al. The metabolic syndrome: prevalence, associated factors, and impact on survival among older
persons in rural Bangladesh. PLoS One 2011;6:e20259. Epub 2011 Jun 15.
59. Reddy KS et al. Educational status and cardiovascular risk profile in Indians. Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences United States of America 2007;104:16263-8. Epub 2007 Oct 8.
60. Ahmed SM et al. Clustering of chronic non-communicable disease risk factors among selected Asian populations:
levels and determinants. Global Health Action 2009;28:2.
61. Parkin DM. The global health burden of infection-associated cancers in the year 2002. International Journal of
Cancer 2006;118:3030-3044.

Chapter 4

Drivers of NCDs

I NCDs have their origin in the social, cultural, economic and

environmental conditions of societies.
I Globalization, unplanned urbanization, poverty, poor health systems
and social inequities are major determinants of NCDs.
I Socioeconomic determinants can influence peoples exposure and
vulnerability to NCDs and can also influence health outcomes.

Socioeconomic conditions have an patterns from infectious diseases to NCDs, and

enormous impact on population health. Socio- from a demographic transition due to increased
economic determinants can influence peoples longevity and a rise in the ageing population.
exposure and vulnerability to NCDs and can People in this Region are now living longer
also influence health outcomes. This chapter (Annex 5) and closing the gap with the worlds
reviews the major determinants of NCDs average life expectancy. This is primarily a
including poverty, illiteracy, poor health result of marked reduction in infant and child
infrastructure and social inequities on one side mortality and control of communicable diseases
and demographic transition in terms of in most SEAR Member countries. As a result,
increasing life expectancy, and urbanization typical population pyramids are changing from
and globalization on the other. These a pyramid shape to a bell shape to a barrel
determinants trigger risk factors that shape (Figure 4.2). It is projected that from
increasingly lead to NCDs (Figure 4.1). 2000 to 2025, the proportion of population
above 65 years will increase from 3.6% to 6.6%
Population Ageing in Bangladesh, from 4.4% to 7.7 % in India and
from 6.3% to 12.3% in Sri Lanka. Ageing due to
NCDs have emerged as a public health
this transition will increase the number of NCD
problem in SEAR mainly due to epidemiological
cases because prevalence of NCDs increases
transition, characterized by a change in disease
with age (1).


Fig 4.1. Schematic representation of an iceberg for NCDs

Cardiovascular diseases
Chronic respiratory diseases
NCDs Diabetes

Raised blood pressure

Metabolic Raised blood glucose
risk factors Abnormal blood lipids

Tobacco use
Behavioural Unhealthy diet
risk factors Physical inactivity
Harmful use of alcohol

Social Illiteracy

Urbanization Major urban differentials exist in the

prevalence and levels of risk factors and diseases.
Urbanization in SEAR is occurring at a
Studies have shown the correlation of
rapid rate. It increased from 26% in 1990 to
urbanization with an increase in behavioural and
33% in 2009 (2). The projected percentage of
metabolic risk factors, i.e. smoking, overweight,
population residing in urban areas will more
raised blood pressure, low physical activity, as
than double by 2050 in most of the Member
well as prevalence of some major NCDs (3).
countries (Figure 4.3).
The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical
Urban lifestyles increase the risk of NCDs
Research) and WHO multi-centric study
by reduced opportunities for physical activity,
conducted in six states of India among men and
increased exposure to environmental pollutants
women aged 1564 years shows that
and stress, and increased availability of
behavioural, anthropometric and biochemical
processed and unhealthy foods. Increasing
risk factors of NCDs are more prevalent in
urbanization is also causing traditional healthy
urban than in rural areas (Figure 4.4) (4).
habits to change to unhealthy habits.


Fig 4.2: Population projections for Bangladesh and India, 2011, 2025 and 2050

Bangladesh, 2011 Bangladesh, 2025 Bangladesh, 2050

Male 100+ Female Male 100+ Female Male 100+ Female
9094 9094 9094
8589 8589 8589
8084 8084 8084
7579 7579 7579
7074 7074 7074
6569 6569 6569
6064 6064 6064
5559 5559 5559
4549 4549 4549
4044 4044 4044
3539 3539 3539
3034 3034 3034
2529 2529 2529
2529 2529 2529
2529 2529 2529
2024 2024 2024
1519 1519 1519
1014 1014 1014
59 59 59
04 04 04

10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10
Population (in millions) Population (in millions) Population (in millions)

India, 2011 India, 2025 India, 2050

Male 100+ Female Male 100+ Female Male 100+ Female
9094 9094 9094
8589 8589 8589
8084 8084 8084
7579 7579 7579
7074 7074 7074
6569 6569 6569
6064 6064 6064
5559 5559 5559
4549 4549 4549
4044 4044 4044
3539 3539 3539
3034 3034 3034
2529 2529 2529
2529 2529 2529
2529 2529 2529
2024 2024 2024
1519 1519 1519
1014 1014 1014
59 59 59
04 04 04

10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10
Population (in millions) Population (in millions) Population (in millions)

Source: US Census Bureau, International Data Base

A study conducted in Sri Lanka showed compared to medium- and high-urban

that prevalence of diabetes mellitus, overweight categories (5).
and insufficient physical activity was highest
A study from Tamil Nadu (India) found
among urban men and women compared to
that being urban (measured by population size,
those among the middle- and lower-urban
access to markets, communication, etc.) is
categories. The smoking prevalence among men
associated with smoking, increased body-mass
was highest among the low-urban category,
index (BMI), blood pressure and physical


Fig 4.3: Projected mid-year population, residing in urban areas, South-East Asia Region,

increase in







DPR Korea



Sri Lanka



Source: World Urbanization Prospects. The 2007 Revision. Highlights. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.
United Nations New York, 2008.

Fig 4.4: Prevalence of NCD risk factors in urban and rural areas, by sex, India, 2003-2006

80 NCD risk
factors are

more prevalent
70 Rural

60 in urban areas














BMI30 Increased WC Physical Blood glucose Total

inactivity at 126 mg/dl cholesterol
work 200 mg/dl

WC = waist circumference; BMI = body mass index; increased WC (Men 90 cm; Women 80 cm)
Source: Shah B, Mathur P. Surveillance of cardiovascular disease risk factors in India: the need & scope. Indian Journal of Medical Research


inactivity in men and high BMI and physical with NCDs are doubly disadvantaged; on the
inactivity in women (3). However, this study one hand, low levels of income affect health
found that being urban is positively associated behaviours and lifestyle choices; health-
with increased consumption of fruits and damaging behaviours are found to be common
vegetables in both sexes. among the poor, and low income may affect
health directly, for example, due to low
Globalization purchasing power for a healthy diet. On the
other hand, access to health care is low among
The rapidly growing burden of NCDs in
the poor and NCDs are expensive to treat and
low- and middle-income countries is also driven
may push a family into poverty through out-of-
by globalization of trade and market economy.
pocket expenditures, thereby limiting their food
All economies work on the principle of demand
and health-seeking choices. Poverty in turn is
and supply, i.e. they influence demand and
associated with other social determinants of
accordingly modify supply systems
chronic diseases, such as inadequate education,
manufacturing and service sectors. Moreover,
weak social network, social exclusion and long-
globalization is decreasing trade barriers and
lasting psychological stress.
populations are now subjected to international
marketing and advertising. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and their
risk factors were originally more common in
Globalization has brought processed foods
upper socioeconomic groups in the developed
and diets high in total energy, fats, salt and
world but have gradually become more
sugar into billions of homes, and people in
common in lower socioeconomic groups (6). In
developing countries are now consuming more
SEAR, many risk factors and NCDs are already
processed foods than ever before. Rise in
equally and more prevalent in the lower
income is increasing the purchasing capacity
socioeconomic strata of society. For example,
and may be facilitating consumption of
in Indonesia, hypertension was as common
processed food, beverages and tobacco.
(33%) in the top income quintile as (31%) in the
A significant proportion of global bottom quintile (7).
marketing is now targeted at children in
Tobacco and poverty form a vicious circle.
developing economies and is a key contributor
Tobacco is a special case of a preventable risk
to unhealthy behaviour. This has resulted in a
that disproportionately affects the poor. The
situation where unhealthy options (be it
poorest quintiles are more likely to smoke daily
tobacco, alcohol or food) are more often easily
and more likely to smoke larger quantities (see
available, cheaper and more attractive. As a
Chapter 3). Expenditure on tobacco
result, the level of exposure of individuals and
consumption displaces income available for the
populations to risk factors for NCDs may be
familys food, education and health care. A
higher in the Region than in high-income
study conducted in Sri Lanka revealed that the
countries, where people tend to be protected by
two lowest income categories (monthly income
comprehensive interventions.
<US$ 76) spent more than 40% of their income
on concurrent alcohol and tobacco use while the
next income category (US$ 76143) spent 35%
A large segment of the population in SEAR of their income on alcohol and tobacco. The
still lives below the poverty line. The NCD poor spent less than those with higher income
pandemic originates from poverty and on alcohol and tobacco but given the mean
disproportionately affects the poor. Poor people


expenditure of over 40% of income on these important underlying determinant of health at

substances, the daily survival of the poor is both individual and community levels.
severely constrained (8). Educated people benefit through increased
knowledge of protecting health, a better
Understanding the links between poverty
understanding of health-promoting lifestyles
and NCDs would help in developing appropriate
and seeking proper health care. Literacy levels
policies to address this. One possibility is
in SEAR have considerably improved from an
material deprivation due to poverty that
average of 52% during 199099 to 71% in 2007.
restricts choices and pushes people into high-
However, 30% of the Regions population
risk behaviours. This causes not only an early
remains illiterate (11). Low levels of literacy
onset of NCDs, but also complications that
affect health behaviours and lifestyle choices, so
cannot be averted as access to health care is also
that people fall easy and early prey to NCDs. An
limited resulting in early death. The other
inverse relationship between tobacco use and
possibility is that recent developments have
education has been observed in the Region.
generated high incomes for some erstwhile
Studies have revealed that both smoking and
deprived groups in developing countries that
smokeless tobacco use are more prevalent
has eased choices to indulge in a risky lifestyle
among the less educated in Bangladesh, India,
thus exacerbating NCDs (9).
Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand (see Chapter
The outcome of all diseases, particularly of 2). Illiteracy and a poor level of awareness can
NCDs (since they require prolonged care), is also result in high consumption of salt, as well
worse in poor countries, particularly where as use of saturated fats and trans fats and thus
access to health care is dependent on the ability aggravate development of NCD risk factors.
to pay (6). Total expenditure on health in SEAR
Member countries is low (Annex 6), with a Underdeveloped health system
maximum of 14% GDP in Timor-Leste in 2008 Underdeveloped health systems and mal-
and just 2.3% in Indonesia and Myanmar. In distribution of health care is also an important
India, total health expenditure as percentage of determinant of health. Under-developed and
GDP (4.2%) is about one third that of USA (10). under-resourced health-care systems worsen
The irony in this impoverished Region is that the impact of the NCD epidemic. Current health
more than one half (59% in 2008) of health systems in SEAR have many limitations to
expenditure is met with private resources, tackle NCDs. First, there is unequal distribution
mostly out of pocket. This places a of health workers, who particularly concentrate
disproportionate burden on the poor. Social in urban areas. Moreover, there is a
security is practically non-existent for large disproportionately higher number of health
segments of the population. In 2008, per capita personnel working at the institutional level of
total expenditure on health was $PPP 116 on medical care vis--vis community level workers
average in the Region and government including health volunteers delivering public
expenditure was just about 33% in populous health services. Also, there is insufficient
countries, such as Bangladesh and India, and a attention to involve the workforce from other
dismal 7.5% in Myanmar (Annex 6). sectors or disciplines beyond health. Second,
health workers lack training in providing NCD
Illiteracy services at the primary care level, particularly,
Education is a crucial factor for little attention is paid to health promotion and
sustainable development and the most primary prevention. Finally, essential drugs for


NCDs are often not available at the primary care countries. A slight improvement in out-of-
centres. pocket expenditure and general government
expenditures on health could be observed
Annex 7 shows key indicators of the health
between 2000 and 2008; however some other
workforce in SEAR countries. With the
crucial indicators show that this Region is well
exception of a few SEAR countries, health care
below the global average (Annex 6).
personnel in every category are understaffed.
The health workforce density in SEAR countries In summary, public health infrastructure
is low with a regional average of five physicians in most SEAR countries is not adequate and the
and 13 nurses/midwives per 10 000 population, value of public health is not adequately
against 14 and 30, respectively in the global appreciated. Development of only the
average. The health infrastructure situation is institutional health system may not be enough
also unfavourable with some countries, where for tackling NCDs; public health interventions
while the number of hospital beds considerably (including health promotion and disease
increased over time, the number of health prevention as a primary prevention) are also
centres remain low. This is a major constraint needed. At the same time, curative service
in sustainable development of the health sector cannot be ignored. Public health interventions
and in improving access to health care. Health should reach the poor, un-reached and
expenditure ratios in SEAR countries (Annex 6) underprivileged.
indicate a large variation among SEAR

1. US Census Bureau, International Data Base
=0&Y=2000,2011,2025&R=123&C=BG,IN,CE (accessed 28 December 2011).
2. World Health statistics 2011. Geneva, World Health Organization 2011. (accessed 28 December 2011).
3. Allender S et al. Level of urbanization and noncommunicable disease risk factors in Tamil Nadu, India. Bulletin of
the World Health Organization 2010; 88:297-304.
4. Shah B, Mathur P. Surveillance of cardiovascular disease risk factors in India: the need & scope. Indian Journal of
Medical Research 2010;132:634-42. (accessed 28 December 2011).
5. Allender S et al. Quantifying Urbanization as a Risk Factor for Noncommunicable Disease. Journal of Urban Health
6. Equity, social determinants and public health programmes. Geneva, World Health Organization 2010.
7. National Institute of Health Research and Development, Ministry of Health. Report on Result of National Basic Health
Research, 2008.
8. de Silva V, Samarasinghe D, Hanwella R. Association between concurrent alcohol and tobacco use and poverty. Drug
and Alcohol Review 2011;30:69-73.
9. Yach D, Hawkes C, Gould CL, et al. The global burden of chronic diseases: overcoming impediments to prevention
and control. Journal of the American Medical Association 2004;291:2616-22.
10. Ilangho RP. Review series: lung disease around the world: lung health in India. Chronic Respiratory Disease
11. World health statistics 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization 2011.

Chapter 5

Economic Burden of NCDs

I The economic consequences of NCDs are enormous, both at the

micro- and macro-economic levels.
I The earnings spent on unhealthy risk behaviours, such as tobacco use
and harmful use of alcohol, leave decreased financial resources for
essential items, such as food, education and daily consumables.
I Expenditure on NCD treatment results in catastrophic health
expenditures and impoverishment of affected families.

The economic burden of NCDs and risk Forum (WEF) estimates that over the next 20
factors may be examined in the context of years, at the global level, NCDs will cost more
microeconomy (household financing of care, than US$ 30 trillion, representing 48% of
changes in consumption patterns, and foregone global GDP in 2010, and will push millions of
earning of individuals and households due to people below the poverty line (1). According to
the ill health in the population), and a macroeconomic analysis, it is estimated that
macroeconomy (the expenditure on each 10% increase in NCDs is associated with
infrastructure and GDP losses due to ill health a 0.5% lower rate of annual economic growth
in the population). This chapter examines the (2).
impact of NCDs and their risk factors on
At the national level, negative impacts of
economic development in countries of SEAR, at
NCDs also include large-scale loss of
the national and household level.
productivity as a result of absenteeism and
inability to work and loss of lives due to
Economic burden of NCDs at the
premature deaths (<60 years), and ultimately a
National Level
decrease in national income. The cumulative
The macroeconomic impact of NCDs is projected cost of CVDs in terms of GDP loss by
profound as they cause loss of productivity and 2015 in five SEAR countries is estimated to
decrease in GDP. A recent study by Harvard amount to more than 20 billion dollars (Table
School of Public Health and World Economic 5.1) (3).


Table 5.1: Projected cost of cardiovascular disease in terms of lost

GDP in selected countries of South-East Asia Region, 2006 and 2015

Foregone GDP* Cumulative GDP loss

(US$ billions) (US$ billions) by 2015

Member countries 2006 2015 2015 as proportion

of 2006 estimates

Bangladesh 0.08 0.14 175% 1.1

India 1.35 1.96 145% 17
Indonesia 0.33 0.53 158% 4.2
Myanmar 0.03 0.06 200% 0.43
Thailand 0.12 0.18 150% 1.5

Source: Abegunde DO, et al. The burden and cost of chronic diseases in low-income and middle-income countries.
Lancet 2007;370:1929-38.
*GDP: Gross Domestic product

As NCDs are chronic in nature and require I Economic loss in 2008 in Indonesia due to
long term treatment and care, countries are tobacco-attributed premature mortality,
spending large sums of money for management morbidity and disability was estimated to
of people inflicted with NCDs. A major part of be 339 trillion Rupiahs (US$ 34 billion).
these costs is associated with expensive This was much higher than 45 trillion
infrastructure, largely at the tertiary level, for Rupiahs (US$ 4.5 billion) revenue collected
investigation technologies and for drugs. by the Government from tobacco in the
same year (5).
Some examples of high expenditure on
health care financing in the Region are: I Economic implications of COPD in India
reveals that the cost of COPD treatment is
Average cost of illness per diabetic patient
increasing in both urban and rural areas

in Thailand was US$ 881 in 2008; this

(Figure 5.1). It is estimated that more than
represented 21% of per capita GDP of
Rs 48 000 crore will be spent by patients
Thailand (4).
and their families on COPD treatment alone
I Total annual health expenditure spent by in 2016 (6).
Indonesian people in 2008 for diseases
attributed to tobacco amounted to Economic burden of NCDs at
15 trillion Rupiahs (~US$ 1.5 billion) for in- household level
patient services and 3.1 trillion Rupiahs NCDs have a detrimental impact on
(~US$ 0.31 billion) for out-patient services. individuals and families. Loss of household
By applying GDP per capita (in 2008) of income among the poor occurs due to high costs
US$ 1420, at the macro level, the tobacco- incurred because of unhealthy behaviours
attributed loss of disability adjusted life (tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol), out-of-
years (DALYs) caused an economic loss of pocket health-care expenditure (for treatment
US$ 19 billion in Indonesia (5). of NCD and their complications), and loss of


Fig 5.1: Projected cost of treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by
residence, India 1996-2016
treatment cost
6000 Total

is expected to

increase in

urban and
rural areas
Rupees in million




1996 2001 2006 2011 2016

Source: Economic burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, NCMH Background Paper Burden of Disease in India.

wages (due to disease, disability and premature In Myanmar, although the actual
death), thus exacerbating poverty. Risky household expenditure on tobacco was lower in
behaviours, such as smoking and alcohol use, the low-income groups, the percentage of
cost a significant proportion of the household monthly expenditure for tobacco products was
income for the poor. Because of prolonged highest among the lowest income groups and
illnesses in NCDs and since NCDs affect the fell steadily for higher income groups. Indian
most productive periods of life, the consequent households with tobacco users had lower
loss of productive capacity affects earnings; and consumption of certain commodities (such as
this combined with high health-care costs milk, education, clean fuels and entertainment),
associated with NCDs, drives poor families which may have a more direct bearing on
further into poverty. women and children in the household than on
men, suggesting that tobacco spending also had
Household expenditure incurred on risky
negative effects on per capita nutrition intake
Tobacco and alcohol use are addictive and
come at a cost that could have a detrimental Families in Delhi (India) with at least one
impact on household budget. In Bangladesh, the member consuming three or more drinks per
poorest spend about 10 times as much on week spent almost 14 times more on alcohol
tobacco as on education (Figure 5.2) (7). The each month compared with families where no
average amount spent on tobacco each day member consumed more than one drink (11).
would generally be enough to make the Excessive drinking also resulted in fewer
difference between at least one family member financial resources for food, education and daily
having just enough to eat to keep from being consumables and more debts.
malnourished (8).


Fig 5.2: Ratio of expenditure on tobacco to education, by household expenditure

group, Bangladesh, 1995-96

The poorest
spend about 10

times as much
on tobacco as on
Tobacco to education expenditure ratio

education in

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
(poorest) (richest)
Household expenditure group

Source: Efroymson D et al. Hungry for tobacco: an analysis of the economic impact of tobacco consumption on the poor in Bangladesh.
Tobacco Control 2001;10:212-7.

In Indonesia, the average budget spent in resourced and there is little social security
2008 by an individual smoker to purchase coverage, treatment of NCDs results in
tobacco in one month was 216 000 Rupiahs catastrophic health expenditures and
(US$ 22), and the total amount spent by impoverishment. For example, in Sri Lanka,
Indonesian smokers on tobacco in one year was treatment of diseases such as diabetes is posing
153 trillion Rupiahs (US$ 15.3 billion) (5). In a severe burden on households, pushing even
2007, 11% of monthly household expenditure was non-poor households into poverty (14). A study
on tobacco the second highest expenditure revealed that the median daily cost of hospital
category after food expense and nearly four times stay due to NCDs in a teaching hospital in
than that for education (Figure 5.3). Sri Lanka was Rs 340 (15). These turn into
enormous costs for the family.
In Nepal the poorest spend 10% of their
income on cigarettes against 5% by the Further, in India, the share of out-of-
wealthiest (12). pocket expenditure due to NCDs among the
economically better off households increased
Health care expenses incurred at
from 32% in 1995 to 47% in 2004, indicating the
household level
growing financial impact of NCDs at the
More than one half of health expenditure household level (16). In India, diabetes
in SEAR is met by private resources, that too treatment can cost a low-income household, a
mostly out of pocket (13). As public health-care third of their monthly income (16). Out-of-
facilities and services are inadequately pocket expenditure associated with acute and


Fig 5.3: Distribution of monthly household expenditure, by expense category,

Indonesia, 2007

accounts for a
tenth of the total
Health 12%

expenditure in
Other expenses 2%
Education 3%

Tobacco 11%
Food 72%

Source: Ministry of Health, National Institute for Health, Research and Development, Indonesia

long-term effects of NCDs can result in Loss of wages

catastrophic health expenditure. In India, 25%
Most people with NCDs cannot continue
of families with a member with CVD experience
working and forego personal and household
catastrophic expenditure and 10% are driven to
income. Duration of NCDs is longer compared
poverty (17). The situation is much worse with
with other health conditions. In India, duration
cancer treatment expenses, where almost 50%
of illness, defined as days when people could not
of households with a member with cancer
work, was 5070 days or more for some NCDs
experience catastrophic spending and 25% are
(17). The annual income loss from missed work,
driven to poverty by health-care expenses. The
time given for care taking, and premature
odds of incurring catastrophic hospitalization
deaths are also significant. The total income loss
expenditure were nearly 160% higher with
due to chronic diseases in India was between
cancers than when hospitalization was due to a
Indian Rupee (INR) 10941113 billion. Of this,
communicable disease (17).
income loss due to hypertension was the highest
In some SEAR countries, up to 40% of (INR 199 billion), followed by diabetes
household expenditures for treating NCDs are (INR 163 billion) and CVDs (INR 144158 billion)
financed through borrowing and sale of assets (Figure 5.4) (17).
driving people further into debt and poverty


Fig 5.4: Annual income loss from missed work, time for care giving, and premature death
among households with a member suffering from an NCD, India, 2004

NCDs lead to
huge loss in
140 Missed work Caregiving Premature death

120 wages
Income loss (billion rupees)






Cardiovascular Hypertension Diabetes Asthma Respiratory Injuries
disease illness

Source: Mahal A et al. The economic implications of non-communicable diseases for India. Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) Discussion Paper.

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3. Abegunde DO et al. The burden and cost of chronic diseases in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet
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Indonesia, 2009.
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Chapter 6

National Response to NCDs

I NCDs are now recognized as an important health problem in all

Member countries.
I Health ministries of Member countries currently lead NCD national
policies and programmes.
I Risk factor surveillance has been established in most Member
countries but morbidity and mortality surveillance is generally
I Existing primary health-care systems need to be strengthened to
address NCDs at the grass root level.

Member countries in the Region have Institutional Capacity for NCD

initiated measures to combat NCDs. WHO Prevention and Control at the
Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) Central Level
conducted a survey in 11 Member countries,
using a semi-structured self-administered The health ministries in all 11 Member
questionnaire during 2010*, to assess their countries have formed a separate unit/
current capacity to respond to NCDs. This department for NCD prevention and control. An
chapter presents the results of this survey and NCD focal point for NCD prevention and
also highlights innovative practices in select control, such as the NCD programme manager,
countries. is available at the health ministry level in all

* SEAR NCD website:


countries. The main functions of the NCD programmes, legislations/regulations and

unit/department are to plan, coordinate, networks that are reported as being
implement, monitor and evaluate NCD implemented or operational in Member
prevention and control activities in the country. countries. Countries are moving from disease-
The NCD units scope of work includes the specific or risk factor-specific approaches
entire spectrum of NCD prevention and control, towards a more integrated approach. Nine
ranging from health promotion and primary Member countries reported have integrated
prevention to early diagnosis, treatment and NCD policies that are largely comprehensive in
care. terms of covering multiple risk factors and
diseases. Cancers and diabetes are the most
The staff at the central level varies widely
targeted diseases for control and chronic
from 24 persons in Bangladesh, DPR Korea,
respiratory diseases the least targeted. By 2010,
Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste; to 813
all 11 Member countries had at least one
persons in Bhutan, India, Maldives and
policy/strategy/plan/programme to address
Myanmar; and 5075 in Indonesia and
NCDs, and these were operational in seven
Thailand. However, many countries have
countries (Table 6.1).
identified inadequacies in knowledge and skills
among their existing public health workforce to A dedicated budget for policy/plan/
carry out assigned functions of NCD prevention programme implementation is available in six
and control at national and subnational levels. countries, while seven countries also have a
monitoring and evaluation component. All
Central NCD units support national
countries have measurable outcome targets as
institutions, such as specialty hospitals and
part of the strategy/programme/action plan.
centres, national public health institutions as
While CRD is the least targeted disease, tobacco
well as professional associations.
(its primary cause) is the most targeted risk
factor for control, followed by harmful use of
alcohol. On the contrary, while diabetes is the
National Policies, Strategies, Plans most targeted disease, diet and physical activity
and Programmes for NCD are the least targeted risk factors.
Prevention and Control
National NCD guidelines
National NCD policies should be
The availability and implementation of
multisectoral in nature and integrated within
guidelines is one major way to promote
the national health and development
evidence-based care. Disease-specific guidelines
programmes. Further, NCD programmes need
that are under development or have been
to be integrated (and not disease specific)
partially implemented in a few countries are
because of common/shared risk factors that are
given in Table 6.2.
responsible for these NCDs.

Policies/plans/programmes Legislative measures on NCD

prevention and control
There is a high level of national
commitment for tackling NCDs as reflected by Legislative measures and effective law
the large number of policies, strategies, plans, enforcement are key to implementing
comprehensive NCD prevention and control


programmes. Legislation serves to countries except Indonesia have ratified the

institutionalize NCD control programmes and WHO FCTC and are implementing the various
creates, legitimizes and finances an authority to elements of MPOWER a package of six
implement and direct a policy programme for effective tobacco control policies (Table 6.3).
NCD control in a country. In Member countries,
In Thailand, the Thai Health Promotion
tobacco has been addressed almost universally
Foundation (ThaiHealth) has played a crucial
by legislation. Tobacco legislation is available in
role in NCD prevention and control, particularly
10 countries, five countries have alcohol
in increasing tobacco taxation. The consistent
legislation, two countries address legislation on
increase in taxes over the past several years has
diet and nutrition and only one country has
led to a steady decrease in smoking prevalence
physical activity legislation. Legislative support
among adults. Similar taxation is needed to
for other risk factors is yet to be fully developed
reduce the demand for other unhealthy
in Member countries. The WHO Framework
products such as sugary drinks; conversely,
Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the
subsidies should be provided on fruits and
first legally binding international treaty to
reduce harm due to tobacco. In SEAR, all

Table 6.1: Number of South-East Asia Region Member countries with

policies, strategies, action plans and programmes for NCD prevention and
control, 2010 (n=11)
Integrated or disease- Policy Strategy Plan Programme Any of
specific tools these
Integrated 9 9 9 8 11
Heart diseases 4 6 6 7 7
Cancer 4 6 6 8 8
Diabetes 3 5 6 7 8
Chronic respiratory disease 2 4 5 5 6
Source: World Heath Organization. Assessment of capacity for prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases.
New Delhi, 2011.

Table 6.2: Number of countries with national-level NCD guidelines,

South-East Asia Region, 2010 (n=11)
Availability of national Implementation
Health conditions/ level guidelines
services Available Under Full Partial

Diabetes 8 1 5 4
Hypertension 8 1 5 4
Overweight/obesity 2 2 2 1
Dyslipidemia 3 1 1 2
Alcohol dependence 5 1 3 2
Tobacco dependence 4 2 2 3
Dietary counselling 6 1 4 3
Physical inactivity 4 1 3 1
Source: World Heath Organization. Assessment of capacity for prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable
diseases. New Delhi, 2011.


Table 6.3: Status of implementation of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in South-East Asia
Region, 2011

FCTC Implementation Bangladesh Bhutan DPRK India Indonesia Maldives Myanmar Nepal Sri Lanka Thailand Timor-Leste

Ratification of WHO FCTC X

Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
Global Adult Tobacco
Survey (GATS) X X X X X X X
Global Youth Tobacco
Survey (GYTS) X
Protect people from tobacco smoke
Smoke-free health care facilities
Smoke-free government facilities X X X X
Smoke-free public transport X X X X
Smoke-free educational institutes X
National law requiring fine
for smoking X X X
Fines levied on the establishment X X X X X X
Offer help to quit tobacco use
Tobacco quit lines available X X X X X X X X X
Warn about dangers of tobacco use
Graphic health warnings X X X X X X X X X
Textual health warning NA X X X X X
Enforce Bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
Ban on national TV and radio X X X
Ban at point of sale X X X
Ban on billboards and
outdoor advertising X X X
Raise taxes on tobacco
Taxation rate on cigarettes 68% NA NA 46% 54% 32% 50% 29% 73% 69% NIL

Source: Narain, et al. Noncommunicable diseases in the South-East Asia Region: strategies and opportunities. NMJI 2011 (in press)
Implemented X not implemented NA information not available

Bangladesh is the first country in the formulating evidence-based policies, planning

Region to establish a National Tobacco Control appropriate interventions and services, and
Cell (NTCC) under the Bloomberg Initiative. monitoring progress towards desired goals.
Bangladesh is exemplary in the developing There are three essential elements of a
world as it conducts mobile courts drives across comprehensive NCD surveillance system,
the country to enforce tobacco control law and namely: (1) surveillance for exposure to
take cognizance of violations of the law (Box behavioural and metabolic risk factors;
6.1). (2) surveillance for disease outcomes (morbidity
and mortality); and (3) surveillance/monitoring
of health system response.
Surveillance and Monitoring
Risk factor surveillance
Accurate information through a
At least one NCD risk-factor survey
sustainable surveillance system is essential for
(national or subnational) has been completed in


Box 6.1: Innovative law enforcement using mobile courts, Bangladesh

The mobile court drives is a unique feature of the judicial system in Bangladesh
for hastening the dispensation of justice in non-criminal cases. It is being used for
enforcing anti-tobacco laws. Violation of tobacco products advertisement bans is
one of the offences try-able by a mobile court. An empowered magistrate tries
the case on the spot, ensures immediate removal of the advertisement and
Mobile courts, Bangladesh

punishes the perpetrator as per the law. Members of law enforcing agencies
including the police, provide the magistrate with necessary support.

Onthespot actions have been taken by removing billboards containing

advertisement of tobacco products and also by removing other promotional
materials from places such as fast-food corners, snooker-playing places and
restaurants. The youth of the country have shown active involvement during the
drives of mobile courts by voluntarily participating in removing billboards,
signboards and other promotional objects. The mobile court drives have also
played an exceptionally important and exemplary role in the enforcement of
smoke-free laws in the country.

The mobile court drives have received tremendous support from the civil society.
The initiative has received huge media coverage and contributed in creating
awareness about the law among the public. As a result of the enthusiastic effort
of the Government, local administration and development partners, and
particularly due to the unique efforts by mobile courts, tobacco advertisements
on billboards or signboards have become almost non-existent in Bangladesh.

all 11 Member countries. In six countries, 6.4). Risk-factor surveys, based on WHO STEPS
surveys were done at the national level. In India, approach that aims to collect information on
the process of national-level surveys is under risk behaviours (tobacco and alcohol use,
way. In most countries, risk factor surveys are physical inactivity and unhealthy diet),
carried out as special or vertical surveys. physiological variables (weight and height and
Indonesia and Thailand are the only two blood pressure), and biochemical variables
countries that integrated risk-factor questions (blood sugar and blood lipids), have now been
into the general health survey or behavioural conducted in all countries (Table 6.4). While
risk-factor surveys. Tobacco use surveys have behavioural variables were collected in all 10
been done more frequently compared to other countries, physiological risk factors (BMI and
risk factors. Four countries conducted at least hypertension) have been measured in national-
one round of GATS. Ten countries completed at level surveys in four countries, and blood sugar
least one round of GYTS and all 10 countries has been measured in three countries. No
conducted more than one round of GYTS (Table country has yet reported a national-level lipid


Table 6.4: Type of risk surveys conducted and the latest year, countries of
WHO/SEA Region
Country STEPS* GATS** GYTS*** GSHS****
Latest No. of Latest No. of Latest No. of Latest No. of
rounds rounds rounds rounds
Bangladesh 2010 2 2009 1 2007 2 NA NA
Bhutan 2007 1 NA NA 2009 2 NA NA
India 2006 2 2009-2010 1 2009 3 1 2009
Indonesia 2006 3 on-going 1 2009 7 1 2006
Maldives 2004 1 NA NA 2007 3 1 2010
Myanmar 2007 3 NA NA 2007 3 2 2007
Nepal 2007 3 NA NA 2007 3 1 2003
Sri Lanka 2007 2 NA NA 2007 3 1 2008
Thailand NA NA 2009 1 2009 3 2 2009
Timor Leste NA NA NA NA 2009 2 1 2009
* STEPS Country reports
**** World Heath Organization. Assessment of capacity for prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases. New
Delhi, 2011.
NA = Not available
GYTS: Global Youth Tobacco Survey
GSHS :Global School-based Student Health Survey
GATS : Global Adult Tobacco Survey
STEPS: Stepwise approach to NCD risk factor surveillance

measurement survey. Most countries have information system in all 11 countries; mortality
completed only one round of STEPS survey; data are included in nine countries. However,
therefore, sufficient information for trends most mortality and morbidity data are hospital-
estimation for diseases and risk factors on a based. Many countries are using a standardized
nationally representative sample is not available protocol for data collection and quality control
in the Region. procedures are reportedly in place. Morbidity
and mortality data obtained from routine health
In most Member countries, the health
information systems are being used for target
ministry is the lead agency for planning and
setting in NCD prevention and control in many
implementing risk factor surveys. However, a
Member countries.
major limitation of risk factor surveys is that
they are not institutionalized and are done on Disease-specific registries are an
an ad hoc basis depending on the availability of important source of morbidity and mortality
funds rather than on a regular periodic basis at data. The disease registries for NCDs have been
fixed intervals. most commonly established for cancer, followed
by diabetes and stroke. About half of these are
Morbidity and mortality surveillance national-level disease registries and most are
hospital-based (Table 6.5). Maldives has no
Disease-specific morbidity data are
disease registry except for thalassemia.
generally collected through a routine health


Table 6.5: Number of disease registries reported by Member countries,

South-East Asia Region
Indicator Cancer Diabetes Myocardial Stroke Chronic
infarction respiratory

Disease registry present 9* 5 3 4 3

National 5 2 1 2 2
Sub-national 4 3 2 2 1
Source of data
Population-based 3 1 1 1 1
Hospital-based 8 4 2 3 2
* Number of countries answering in the affirmative.
Source: World Heath Organization. Assessment of capacity for prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable
diseases. New Delhi, 2011.

Bangladesh has subnational hospital-based system for monitoring response to the NCD
registries for all listed diseases and DPR Korea epidemic. At the global level, indicators and
reported having population-based national- targets are currently being developed to monitor
level registries for several NCDs. Sri Lanka has the global and national response to the NCD
registries on cancers and also has a chronic epidemic. Developing monitoring systems for
kidney disease registry. Myanmar and Timor- the future is a major priority for countries.
Leste have not yet reported on registries.

A major limitation of mortality and

morbidity surveillance systems in the Region is Health System Capacity for NCD
that they are largely hospital-based, which Prevention, Early Detection,
compromises the representativeness of the Treatment and Care
information generated. While hospital-based
Traditionally, health systems in SEAR are
disease-specific registries are a useful source for
geared towards providing maternal and child
obtaining clinical data, such as disease patterns
health care, immunization and deal with
and survival rates, population-based disease
communicable diseases; NCDs have been
registries are needed for estimation of incidence
generally neglected. With the emergence of
rates that are currently lacking from the Region.
NCDs, it is imperative to reorient health
Moreover, establishment and management of
systems and retrain health personnel to provide
disease registries need technical expertise and
long-term prevention, care and treatment
are resource intensive.
services to address NCDs.

Surveillance and monitoring system

NCD prevention and control at
for health system response
primary health-care level
According to available information, no
The availability of services at the primary
country in the Region has a comprehensive
health-care level has become more


comprehensive over the years. All Member Availability of diagnostic facilities

countries provide at least one NCD-related for NCDs at primary health care
service at the primary health-care level in public level
health facilities. This includes mainly risk factor
A selected set of diagnostic devices to
and disease management (10 countries),
detect risk factors is essential at the primary
primary prevention and health promotion (11
health-care level. All Member countries have
countries) and early diagnosis of NCD risk-
blood pressure measurement facility available
factors (9 countries). However, not much
at the primary health-care level. Blood glucose
progress has been achieved in promoting home-
and weight measurement facilities are available
based care. In SEAR countries, pilot projects for
in nine countries. Cancer detection services are
integrating NCDs within the primary health-
the least available, possibly due to their high
care system are under way in Bhutan and Sri
technical requirements (Table 6.6). The major
Lanka (Box 6.2), and are planned in Maldives
reason reported for lack of these services has
and Indonesia.
been the non-availability of equipment. In some

Box 6.2: Integrating NCD prevention and control into primary health care services, Sri Lanka

The WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Diseases Interventions (WHO

PEN) for primary care is an innovative response to the NCD challenge. PEN is a
prioritized set of cost-effective interventions, tools and aids that help deliver
Integrated primary heath care services

acceptable quality of care even in resource-poor settings. It includes the entire

spectrum of services from health promotion to prevention of risk factors and
NCDs to management, care, treatment and referral. The essential components of
PEN include: assessment of health system capacity; use of standard protocols for
diagnosis and treatment of major NCDs at primary level; use of WHO/ISH risk
charts for assessing an individuals risk; essential medicines and essential
equipments; and essential recording and reporting tools.

A pilot PEN project was initiated in Badulla district in Sri Lanka in 2009. A
Sri Lanka

baseline assessment of all health facilities was done using a structured

questionnaire. Most of the essential equipment recommended in the PEN were
already available in the primary care centres; additional equipment, namely
blood glucometers, urine protein test strips and peak flow meters were procured
and supplied to all institutions. The essential list of medicines proposed for PEN
was reviewed by expert groups in the country and steps were taken to include
these into the essential list of medicines at the primary health care level. A
striking feature of this project is the use of non health workers at the community
level, for mobilizing the community members especially for systematic screening
at primary care level. All persons over 40 years of age were requested to visit
their nearest health facility to undergo a medical check-up including an
assessment of cardiovascular risk by checking BMI, blood pressure and blood
sugar. To maintain proper records, several data collection formats were
developed including screening cards, patient health records, OPD registers and
clinic registers.


Table 6.6: Availability of NCD tests and procedures (in more than 50% of
facilities) at primary health care level, SEAR, 2010
Health condition Procedure No. of countries Reasons for non-availability
where available Lack of Lack of
equipment trained staff
Overweight Weight measurement 9 2 0
and obesity Height measurement 8 2 0
Waist circumference 4 2 5
Cancer Cervical cytology 2 6 3
Acetic visualization 1 4 3
Faecal occult blood test 4 3 3
Digital examination for
bowel cancer 3 2 3
Breast cancer by palpation 8 1 1
Mammogram 0 9 1
Colonoscopy 1 7 2
Diabetes Blood glucose 9 2 0
Oral glucose tolerance test 3 2 2
Glycosylated haemoglobin
(HbA1c) 2 8 0
Fundal examination 1 2 6
Foot vibration perception
by tuning fork 2 3 3
Foot vascular status by
doppler 0 8 1
Cardiovascular Electrocardiogram 5 5 0
diseases Blood pressure 11 0 0
Lipids including LDL, HDL
and triglycerides 3 6 0
diseases Spirometry 1 6 2

Source: World Heath Organization. Assessment of capacity for prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases.
New Delhi, 2011.

countries like Bangladesh, these services are not management system is essential. All Member
included in the primary health-care package countries have an essential drugs list and many
and thus there has been no planning to either of the NCD-related drugs are in the national
provide these equipments at the primary health- essential drugs lists. Most of these drugs are
care level or to train human resources for it. generally available at public sector health
facilities. The least available are nicotine
NCD-related drugs replacement therapy and oral morphine. High-
end technology for the management of NCDs
An uninterrupted and sustained supply of
like renal dialysis, radiotherapy and
quality-assured essential drugs for NCDs is
chemotherapy are available in public health
fundamental to NCD control. For this purpose,
systems of seven of 11 Member countries.
an effective drug procurement supply and


Health Financing budget. General government revenue is the

main source of funding for NCD prevention and
The commitment of Member countries to control activities in all Member countries except
NCD prevention and control is reflected in NCD Maldives and Sri Lanka. For these two
programmes being funded largely by regular countries, international donors are a significant
government budgets. All 11 Member countries source of funding. In Thailand, sin tax from
have allocated for NCD prevention and control tobacco and alcohol is used to finance health
in their respective regular health ministry promotion activities (Box 6.3). Out-of-pocket

Box 6.3: Innovative financing for NCD prevention and control, Thailand

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), established in 2001, is

the first organization of its kind in Asia and has been created under the Health
Promotion Foundation Act B.E. 2544 (2001). ThaiHealth gets funded from sin
taxes. These 'sin taxes' are a revenue source for innovative projects and
Innovative financing,

activities to promote public health. ThaiHealth receives 2% of total national

tax revenue on alcohol and tobacco products equivalent to about US$ 35
million per year. There are 12 programmes funded by ThaiHealth which
include tobacco consumption control, alcohol consumption control, physical

activity and sports for health, as well as health risk factors control such as
nutrition, traffic injuries and disaster prevention.

In 2008, ThaiHealth financed tobacco control campaigns (105 million baht or

US$ 3 million), smoke-free projects (38 million baht or US$ 1.08 million) and
other tobacco control projects, as well as research (40 million baht or US$
1.14 million). Sin tax has helped generate additional funds for health
promotion and led to a significant reduction in smoking prevalence. During the
Funds ten years of existence, the percentage of regular smokers was reduced
by 10%, with an 30% increase in excise tax.

Trends in smoking prevalence and excise tax, Thailand, 1990-2010

Excise tax (%) Consistent

reduction in
Regular smokers (%) 100

with increase
Regular smokers (%)

tobacco tax
Excise tax (%)



0 0
1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010

Source: National Statistics Office 2010; Excise Department, Ministry of Finance, Thailand.


expenditure is the main funding source in India. collaboration are important for creating an
In all countries, funding covered all enabling environment where people can make
activities/functions related to treatment and appropriate choices that promote their health.
control (except in Timor-Leste), prevention and Interventions for NCD prevention and control
health promotion (except in Sri Lanka), and have to be multisectoral and multidisciplinary
surveillance, monitoring and evaluation (except and should act at multiple levels. In addition,
in Bhutan and Sri Lanka). the private sector has a major role to play in
determining the consumption of tobacco,
Health insurance is not a major source of
alcohol and dietary items. Its involvement needs
funding in this Region. NCD-related services
to be regulated through appropriate
and treatment are covered by health insurance
mechanisms. Governments of Member
in five countries. Of these, two countries
countries are moving towards establishing
(Sri Lanka and Thailand) have full population-
mechanisms for intersectoral coordination.
level coverage by insurance. In India, less than
20% of the population is covered by insurance, All countries reported having
while in Indonesia and Maldives, insurance partnerships/collaborations between various
coverage is estimated to be 20%50%. departments/sectors in place for implementing
Community/home care for people with end- key activities related to NCDs. The key
stage diseases like cancers are available in three mechanisms used for such collaborations are
countries DPR Korea, Myanmar, Thailand. cross-departmental or ministerial committees
in 10 countries; interdisciplinary committees in
nine countries and a joint task force in six
Partnerships and Collaboration countries. The key stakeholders involved are
government ministries (in all countries); UN
The involvement of sectors other than agencies (all countries except Indonesia); other
health has a major impact on shaping physical international agencies (nine countries);
and social environments that determine health academic institutions and nongovernmental
behaviours. Intersectoral coordination and organizations (10 countries); and private sector
(eight countries).

Chapter 7

Major Challenges in Prevention and

Control of NCDs

The South-East Asia Region has a huge brunt of NCDs, ministries of health must carry
population base with 1.7 billion people and is a out high-level advocacy and take the lead in
diverse Region with the population size of bringing together the different stakeholders to
Member countries varying from 1.2 billion in address NCDs. Without effective and strong
India to less than a million in Maldives and partnerships among different sectors, NCD
Bhutan. Additionally, there are enormous prevention will remain an elusive goal.
intercountry and intracountry differences in
topography, culture, ethnicity, etc. Addressing Weak surveillance systems
health issues in such large and diverse
Lack of availability of robust surveillance
populations poses many challenges.
and research data on NCDs is an important
Furthermore, high out-of-pocket expenditure
barrier to effective planning and
on health care, poor coverage of health and
implementation of NCD prevention and control
social insurance schemes and unregulated role
programmes in the Region. There are many
of the private sector undermines equitable
issues with the current surveillance systems.
health care in most countries of this Region. The
First, NCD surveillance systems are often not
specific challenges in NCD prevention and
institutionalized and rarely integrated into the
control are as follows:
national health information systems. Although
almost all countries have conducted one or
Lack of strong national partnerships more NCD risk factor surveys, these are not yet
for multisectoral actions routine; and are usually dependent on funds
The underlying determinants for NCDs and other factors. Second, there is lack of a
mainly exist in non-health sectors, such as comprehensive framework for surveillance and
agriculture, urban development, education and monitoring at the national and subnational
trade. Intersectoral collaboration is therefore levels. Specific indicators and clear targets at the
essential to create an enabling environment, national and subnational levels and systems for
which promotes healthy lifestyles. Intersectoral monitoring are non-existent. Without such a
partnerships are however not easy to forge as it system, uniform tools for data collection,
means coming together of many sectors with systematic data analyses or standard reports to
competing interests and priorities. Lack of guide the programme do not exist. Third, most
effective partnerships among different countries do not report reliable mortality
development sectors at the national level is one statistics due to weak civil registration systems.
of the major weaknesses in the Member Fourth, population-based cause-specific
countries. Because the health sector bears the morbidity and mortality data collection systems
continue to be poor. While coverage for


morbidity data in national information systems in an inadequate workforce capacity at the

has shown an increase, it is still hospital-based. primary care level. Moreover, health workers
Finally, surveillance and research for NCDs are particularly at the primary care level are trained
poorly funded. traditionally in communicable diseases and
maternal and child health issues, and have
Limited access to prevention, care limited training in addressing NCDs and their
and treatment services for NCDs risk factors. There is a need to develop effective
tools for training health workers in NCD
Lack of access to basic prevention and
prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and care.
treatment in the primary health care setting
including access to affordable medicines and
Insufficient allocation of funds
health-care services are major causes of
premature deaths due to NCDs. Limited Funds allocated for NCD programmes are
emphasis on public health and primary care disproportionately lower than the disease
results in inefficient and unsustainable NCD burden. A low allocation of government budget
programmes and poor health outcomes. In most on health and for NCDs in particular, persists
countries, the major investment on NCD in many Member countries of the Region.
prevention and control is for tertiary care Moreover, available health funds are stretched
services, which are available to a limited thin to meet the acute demands of addressing
number of people living in urban areas. A communicable diseases as well as maternal and
general lower resource allocation to health does child health issues, leaving minimal funds for
not allow for the development of an adequate NCDs. Some countries are generating funds
primary health care infrastructure. As a result, through innovative financing schemes such as
opportunities for early diagnosis are lost and sin tax on tobacco and alcohol. There is a need
NCDs are diagnosed in late stages as heart to increase both domestic and international
attacks, strokes and diabetes complications resources to address NCDs.
which require tertiary care. Moreover,
community- and home-based palliative care are Difficulties in engaging the industry
nonexistent. The health system in the Member and private sector
countries of SEAR should provide a continuum
Profit making industries, such as the food
of NCD care for NCDs and their risk factors
and beverage industry, are a major contributor
from prevention and early diagnoses through to
to NCDs. Dialogue is needed with the industry
treatment and care.
to influence them to voluntarily reformulate
products with lower sodium, lower sugar and
Limited human resources for NCDs eliminate trans fats. While the need to engage
Health systems in the Region are the industry is acknowledged, the mechanisms
characterized by inadequate human resources are not easy, given their profit-making interests.
capacity to address NCDs both in terms of Strong government regulations, both fiscal and
number of health workers and their training. legislative, need to be enforced to ensure
Existing health professionals are concentrated compliance of the industry with health policy
in urban areas at the tertiary care level, resulting norms.


Lack of social mobilization society and government agencies for NCDs. One
of the lessons to be learned and applied from
The ministries of health of Member
HIV control programmes in the Region is to
countries run NCD programmes and policies.
organize social mobilization to increase the
There is inadequate community mobilization
demand for investments for NCD control
and weak coordination among the few existing
civil society agencies, as well as between the civil

Chapter 8

WHO Initiatives in NCD Prevention and


Over the past decade, WHO has played a SEARO is coordinating activities for prevention
leadership role in addressing the NCD and control of NCDs for its 11 Member
pandemic at global, regional and country levels. countries; providing technical and financial
WHO has raised the priority accorded to NCDs support to countries in NCD surveillance,
through high-level advocacy, set norms and monitoring, evaluation, research, policy and
standards, generated the evidence base for strategy development; assisting countries in
effective policies, strategies and interventions integrating NCD control in their primary
as well as for surveillance, monitoring and health-care based health systems, and;
evaluation. In SEAR, there has been a growing promoting and forging partnerships for NCD
recognition and commitment to address NCDs. prevention and control in the Region.

Global initiatives
May 2000 The World Health Assembly endorsed the Global strategy on the
prevention and control of NCDs, providing a global vision for
addressing them. The global NCD strategy has three objectives: (i)
mapping the NCD epidemic and its causes; (ii) reducing main risk
factors through health promotion and primary prevention
approaches; and (iii) strengthening health care for people already
afflicted with NCDs.

May 2003 The World Health Assembly endorsed the WHO Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control.

May 2004 The World Health Assembly endorsed the Global strategy on diet,
physical activity and health.

December 2006 The UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/61/225,

encouraged Member States to develop national policies for the
prevention and control of diabetes.

May 2008 The World Health Assembly endorsed the Action Plan for the
Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs


May 2010 The World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Strategy to
Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

May 2010 The A/RES/64/265 was adopted unanimously by the UN General

Assembly calling for a High-level Meeting on NCDs.

April 2011 The first global ministerial conference on healthy lifestyles and NCD
control was held in Moscow culminating in the Moscow Declaration.

May 2011 The Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly endorsed resolution WHA
64.11 on Preparation for the UN High-level Meeting (UNHLM) on
noncommunicable diseases.

September 2011 The UNHLM was conducted in New York with participation of heads
of states, ministers and other high-level delegates from Member
countries. The outcome of the UNHLM meeting was the adoption of
a political declaration on NCDs. The political declaration is expected
to galvanize support from governments and international donors
for increased financial resources for NCD interventions; act as a
milestone in advocating for Healthy Public Policies/Health in All
Policies approach to the prevention and control of NCDs; help
produce measurable targets and commitments from governments
and the international community to act against NCDs and provide
an impetus to implement the global strategy for the prevention and
control of NCDs (2000) as well as the action plan (20082013)
endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2008.

Regional Initiatives
Some of the recent regional events and initiatives for prevention and control of NCDs are listed

November 2005 South-East Asian Network of NCD (SEANET-NCD) was created at

a regional meeting in Bondos, Maldives, to strengthen and formalize
regional partnerships on NCD prevention and control. SEANET-
NCD meets biennially and greatly facilitates WHO advocacy for
multisectoral approaches in integrated NCD prevention and control.

October 2006 A regional meeting on implementing the global strategy on diet,

physical activity and health in the SEAR was organized in Yangon,
Myanmar to facilitate regional and country-level implementation of
the global strategy.

September 2007 The Regional Framework for Prevention and Control of NCDs was
endorsed at the Sixtieth session of the WHO Regional Committee
for South-East Asia, vide its resolution on Scaling up Prevention
and Control of NCDs in the South-East Asia Region
(SEA/RC60/R4). The key elements of the regional framework
included: epidemiological assessment of NCDs and their


determinants; awareness generation and high-level advocacy;

formulation and adoption of policy and strategic plan for integrated
prevention and control of major NCDs; capacity building; resource
mobilization; as well as multisectoral and multilevel actions to
modify determinants.

October 2007 The second meeting of SEANET-NCD was held in Phuket, Thailand.
The inputs for development of a regional and global plan of action for
integrated prevention and control of NCDs were discussed.

June 2009 The third Meeting of SEANET-NCD was held in Chandigarh, India.
The meeting reviewed the progress in scaling up of NCD prevention
and control, particularly the role of SEANET. The meeting also
discussed and contributed to global recommendations on marketing
of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children.

September 2009 The 31st session of South East Asia-Advisory Committee on Health
Research (SEA-ACHR) was held in Kathmandu. The session
discussed research priorities in NCDs and called for intersectoral
collaboration in carrying out research on NCDs.

September 2010 The Sixty-third session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-
East Asia discussed progress in prevention and control of NCDs in
the Region.

January 2011 A Regional Civil Society Meeting, with support from SEARO was
organized by the Nepal Public Health Foundation (NPHF) in
Kathmandu, during 1923 January, 2011. This meeting resulted in
the Kathmandu Call for Action on NCDs.

March 2011 A regional meeting on health and development challenges of NCDs

was held during 14 March in Jakarta, Indonesia with participation
of all the 11 Member States of the Region. The meeting culminated
in the Jakarta Call for Action on prevention and control of NCDs
and preparation of a report on key messages for UNHLM.

July-September 2011 Country-level multistakeholder meetings were held in 10 of the 11

Member States, along the lines of the regional consultation in
Jakarta, with WHO support. As part of preparations for these
meetings, some countries undertook an assessment of the NCD
situation as well as national capacity and health system response to
address NCDs. The national meetings aimed to discuss inputs to the
UNHLM, build consensus on a multisectoral response to the NCD
epidemic and trigger the development of national multisectoral
medium-term plans for prevention and control of NCDs.

September 2011 The Sixty-third Health Ministers meeting discussed and adopted
ten key messages for the UNHLM from SEAR.

Chapter 9

The Way Forward

The UNHLM on NCDs held in New York Guiding Principles for NCD
during 1920 November was a turning point in Prevention and Control
the global struggle against NCDs. This was the
second time in the history of the United Nations The following guiding public health
that the General Assembly met with the concepts should be used for NCD prevention
participation of heads of state and government and control measures in the Region:
on a health issue with a major socioeconomic
Integrated approach: As the four major
impact. The HLM was attended by 113 Member

NCDs causing 80% of NCD deaths result

States, including 34 presidents and prime
from shared risk factors, there is a need for
ministers, three vice presidents and deputy
an integrated approach to address NCDs
prime ministers, 51 ministers of foreign affairs
together as a cluster of diseases instead of
and health, 11 heads of UN agencies, and
addressing each NCD separately as an
hundreds of representatives from civil society.
individual disease.
From SEAR, heads of states from Bangladesh
(Prime Minister) and Maldives (Deputy), health I Multisectoral actions: Major
ministers from India, Indonesia, Maldives, determinants of NCDs lie outside the scope
Thailand and Sri Lanka, and high-level of the health sector. Therefore control of
delegates from other countries participated in NCDs requires effective multisectoral
the UNHLM. actions and adoption of Health in All
policies. This means that sectors outside
The outcome of the meeting was a Political
health must consider health issues while
Declaration of commitment, which was adopted
formulating policies, strategies and
by the General Assembly on 19 September 2011
standards. With the exception of the
as resolution A/RES/66/2. It acknowledges the
tobacco industry, the private sector can
rapidly growing magnitude of NCDs in
immensely contribute to addressing NCD
developing countries and its increasingly
prevention and control.
devastating health and socioeconomic impacts
and calls for concrete and comprehensive action I Life course approach: Individuals are
by Member States and the international influenced by factors acting at all stages of
community. their life span and risk of developing NCDs
increases with age. Using the life course


approach, NCDs and their risk factors are Health promotion and primary
best addressed throughout the course of prevention to reduce risk factors for
peoples lives, through promotion of healthy NCDs using multisectoral approach
behaviours and early diagnosis and
The majority of NCDs can be averted
treatment that begins before pregnancy and
through interventions and policies that reduce
continues through childhood, adolescence,
major risk factors. Population-wide primary
adult life to old age.
prevention approaches are cost-effective and
I Equity and social justice: NCD interventions that combine a range of evidence-
prevention and control measures should be based approaches have better results. Priority
affordable, appropriate and accessible to should be given to implementation of practical
diverse groups programmes should be and affordable Best Buys interventions. A best
gender sensitive and gender specific. buy is an intervention that is not only highly
Priority should be given to the poorest and cost-effective but also feasible and culturally
the socially disadvantaged sections of acceptable to implement. The recommended
society. Best buys are given in Box 9.1.

Evidence-based and culturally

Health system strengthening for
appropriate interventions: NCD
early detection and management of
intervention strategies need to be based on
sound scientific evidence. A coordinated
agenda for NCD surveillance and research In conjunction with primary prevention
is essential to strengthen the evidence base interventions, improved access to early
for cost-effective and culturally appropriate detection and providing essential standards of
NCD prevention and control measures. care for those with major NCDs at the primary
health-care level, will have the greatest potential
for reversing the progression of disease,
preventing complications, reducing
Specific strategies and
hospitalizations and health care as well as out-
Interventions for NCD Prevention
of-pocket expenditures. The WHO package of
and Control essential NCD interventions (PEN), which
The vision and framework for reversing includes standardized tools for health facility
the NCD epidemic is articulated in WHOs assessment, essential diagnostic equipment,
global strategy for prevention and control of essential drugs, counseling of patients,
NCDs, 20082013 Action plan for the global recording and reporting, and community
strategy for the prevention and control of mobilization is an innovative package for
noncommunicable diseases and the Regional increasing access to high-quality, low-cost care
framework for the prevention and control of for people at high risk for NCDs. In SEAR
noncommunicable diseases. The key strategies Member countries, pilot projects for integrating
recommended by WHO and endorsed by NCDs within the primary health-care system are
Member countries are as follows: under way in Bhutan and Sri Lanka (The PEN


Box 9.1: Cost-effective interventions (best buys) for preventing NCDs

Risk factor/disease Interventions
Tobacco use Protect people from tobacco smoke
Warn about the dangers of tobacco
Enforce bans on tobacco advertising
Raise taxes on tobacco
Harmful use of alcohol Enforce bans on alcohol advertising
Restrict access to retailed alcohol
Raise taxes on alcohol
Unhealthy diet Reduce salt intake in food
Replace trans fat with polyunsaturated fat
Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes Provide counselling and multi-drug therapy (including glycaemic
control for diabetes mellitus) for people with 10-year
cardiovascular risk >30%
Treat acute myocardial infarction (with aspirin)
Cancers Hepatitis B vaccination to prevent liver cancer
Detection and treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix and
early stage cervical cancer
Source: World Health Organization. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, 2011.

project), and are planned in DPR Korea, for risk factors (or measurement of exposure),
Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar and Nepal in the disease morbidity or mortality (or measurement
near future. of outcomes), and assessment of health system
capacity and response. Measurable core
The delivery of effective NCD
indicators for each have to be adopted and used
interventions is determined by the capacity of
to monitor trends and progress. Emphasis
health-care system. The existing organizational
should be placed on surveillance of both
and financial arrangements surrounding health
behavioural and metabolic risk factors. To
care need to be reoriented to address the long-
ensure an effective surveillance system,
term needs of people suffering from and
countries should make efforts to integrate and
vulnerable to NCDs. Broad-based initiatives to
institutionalize NCD surveillance into the
achieve equity in health-care financing are vital
national health information system, for long-
protections against the risk of catastrophic
term sustainability.
NCD-related health-care costs. Additionally,
initiatives aimed at health systems reform Countries also need to have a prioritized
should include specific NCD related endpoints research agenda and carry out formative and
in universal coverage goals. operational research with major focus on
primary prevention and early diagnosis of
Surveillance and research NCDs, addressing social and economic
determinants as well as developing and testing
Surveillance and monitoring of NCDs is
multisectoral approaches to NCD prevention
essential to policy and programme
and control. Allocation of budget for research
development. A comprehensive national NCD
and building up of research work force should
surveillance system should include surveillance
also be a priority.


Role of Different Agencies in NCD prevention and control of NCDs as many

Prevention and Control determinants of NCDs lie outside the health

sector. Significant roles can be played by
A multisectoral approach and involvement governments, development partners, civil
of different agencies is key to addressing society, academia, media and the private sector
(see Box 9.2).

Box 9.2: Role of partners in prevention and control of NCDs

Responsibility of I Make noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) a national development agenda and include
governments health in all policies.
I Set and effectively enforce health promoting norms, standards and strategies.
I Set up surveillance and monitoring to track the NCD epidemic and its control.
I Mobilize and coordinate multisectoral responses and strengthen the engagement of
all sectors in NCD prevention and control.
I Provide equitable access to affordable, effective health care for the prevention and
management of NCDs.

Responsibility of I Mobilize political and social awareness and support for prevention and control of NCDs.
civil society I Act as a counterbalance to commercial and private sector interests against healthy
I Provide prevention and health care services to fill gaps in public and private sector
I Hold governments accountable for delivering on NCD commitments.

Responsibility of I Build capacity of human resources in NCD prevention and control.

academia I Independently monitor and evaluate progress in achieving outcomes by both the
government and private sector.
I Generate evidence and ensure an evidencepolicy interface.

Responsibility of I Raise public awareness among the general population about prevention of risk factors
media for NCDs.
I Create an enabling environment for behaviour change.
I Sensitize political leadership about the importance of multisectoral actions for NCD
prevention and control.
I Act as a watchdog to offset commercial interests against healthy policies.

Responsibility of I Work closely with the government to promote healthy lifestyles, for example by
private sector reformulation to reduce salt, trans fats and sugar in their products.
(except the I Improve health of their employees through workplace wellness programmes.
tobacco industry) I Ensure responsible marketing by helping to make essential medicines more
affordable and accessible.

Reponsibility of I Prioritize NCD prevention and control in aid programmes.

development I Strengthen support for full and effective implementation of global strategies to address
partners NCDs.
I Coordinate and pool technical expertise to strengthen normative guidance to achieve
the best results at the country level.


The NCD epidemic places an enormous scientific evidence need to be designed,

toll in terms of disease morbidity and mortality implemented and monitored. A multisectoral
and inflicts serious damage to human approach that mobilizes all stakeholders is
development in both social and economic essential for long-term progress. Efforts and
spheres. Actions based on best available involvement of all partners will contribute to
sustained improvement in public health.

Annex 1: Estimated number of deaths (in thousands) by major noncommunicable diseases
(NCDs), 2008

Country All NCDs Cancers Diabetes mellitus Cardiovascular diseases Chronic respiratory diseases
Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total
Bangladesh 285.5 313.3 598.8 54.6 48.9 103.5 9.4 10.2 19.6 148.9 166.9 315.8 31.4 37.4 68.8
Bhutan 1.4 1.7 3.1 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.7 0.9 1.6 0.1 0.2 0.3
DPR Korea 71.4 61.5 132.9 15.1 11.9 26.9 3.6 2.3 5.9 36.9 29.9 66.8 7.2 7.0 14.1
India 2273.8 2967.6 5241.4 312.5 321.9 634.4 80.4 96.3 176.7 1002.5 1330.6 2333.1 472.1 618.7 1090.8
Indonesia 481.7 582.3 1063.9 104.8 110.7 215.5 25.7 22.6 48.3 235.6 277.5 513.1 45.5 73.8 119.4
Maldives 0.4 0.5 0.9 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.0 0.1 0.1
Myanmar 116.6 125.8 242.5 24.1 21.8 45.8 4.5 4.2 8.7 61.1 64.2 125.3 12.3 14.7 27.0
Nepal 42.8 48.8 91.7 11.1 8.9 20.0 1.6 1.6 3.2 20.6 24.5 45.1 4.1 5.6 9.7
Sri Lanka 51.1 66.8 117.9 8.5 8.5 17.0 3.8 3.3 7.1 22.8 30.6 53.5 6.5 8.8 15.3
Thailand 191.3 227.1 418.4 35.1 35.6 70.7 22.5 13.3 35.8 75.8 84.4 160.2 10.3 30.0 40.3
Timor-Leste 1.0 1.4 2.4 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.5 0.7 1.2 0.1 0.2 0.3
SEAR total 3517.2 4396.7 7913.9 566.5 568.9 1135.4 151.6 153.8 305.4 1605.6 2010.3 3615.9 589.7 796.4 1386.1

Source: Global Health Observatory, World Health Organization, 2011


Annex 2: Age-standardized death rates due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) per 100 000
population in Member countries of SEAR, 2008

Country All NCDs Cancers Diabetes mellitus Cardiovascular diseases Chronic respiratory diseases
Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total Females Males Total
Bangladesh 654.7 751.2 701.7 106.2 104.5 105.0 22.1 25.6 23.8 371.0 424.2 397.2 73.7 91.7 82.5
Bhutan 667.2 801.0 735.2 119.0 131.8 124.8 18.7 26.1 22.3 372.1 444.7 409.8 73.0 93.3 83.5
DPR Korea 477.4 644.4 547.6 98.9 122.0 106.4 23.1 22.6 23.1 245.1 318.3 278.6 48.8 77.2 59.9
India 582.3 793.0 684.6 72.0 78.9 75.0 21.0 26.9 23.8 268.7 366.1 316.5 128.5 181.2 153.6
Indonesia 547.8 762.7 647.0 109.4 136.5 120.9 29.0 29.9 29.5 278.2 373.9 323.6 53.6 103.1 75.8
Maldives 564.5 621.9 593.7 228.8 290.9 261.5 8.2 3.7 5.8 214.1 215.2 214.1 66.5 60.2 63.1
Myanmar 591.5 755.6 667.1 116.3 124.5 119.8 23.4 25.6 24.4 317.8 398.0 355.0 63.0 91.6 76.0
Nepal 543.5 711.0 620.2 118.8 114.0 116.4 21.0 24.5 22.6 285.7 379.6 329.0 55.8 87.1 70.1
Sri Lanka 490.5 781.4 623.1 79.0 91.6 84.3 36.7 39.8 38.2 220.0 364.5 285.7 62.3 107.1 82.3
Thailand 563.2 811.3 675.0 97.6 115.6 105.9 64.4 46.4 56.3 229.7 304.2 265.3 30.7 119.2 68.6
Timor-Leste 476.8 649.6 559.7 95.0 121.5 107.5 19.3 21.8 20.5 258.3 336.6 296.1 50.0 77.8 63.2
Source: Global Health Observatory, World Health Organization 2011
Annex 3: Age-standardized incidence per 100 000 persons of common
cancers in Member countries of SEAR, 2008

Cancer site
Country Breast Cervix uteri Liver Colorectum Lung Prostate
(females) (females) Females Males Females Males Females Males (males)
Bangladesh 27.2 29.8 3.5 4.1 4.0 4.5 8.7 30.4 1.9
Bhutan 8.0 20.4 4.0 8.1 4.4 7.9 10.8 8.7 1.7
DPR Korea 30.5 6.6 7.2 15.8 16.0 15.0 25.8 34.0 2.3
India 22.9 27.0 1.2 3.2 3.5 4.3 2.5 10.9 3.7
Indonesia 36.2 12.6 3.5 10.3 15.6 19.1 10.9 29.8 10.6
Maldives 46.0 13.3 0.0 0.0 2.0 7.8 0.0 20.3 3.0
Myanmar 32.5 26.4 6.3 16.5 12.0 12.3 13.9 22.9 5.8
Nepal 23.5 32.4 1.1 1.7 4.8 5.3 18.2 20.7 2.2
Sri Lanka 29.1 11.8 1.0 2.3 5.8 7.5 2.7 12.0 5.8
Thailand 30.7 24.5 19.9 40.6 13.4 13.2 12.1 26.8 6.5
Timor-Leste 29.6 11.4 2.5 7.6 11.2 17.6 7.2 28.6 7.9
Source: GLOBOCAN 2008. International Agency for Research on Cancer and World Health Organization


Annex 4: Estimated attributable deaths by major risk factor, SEAR, 2004

Risk factor Attributable deaths Attributable fraction

(number in thousands) (%)
Childhood and maternal under-nutrition
Underweight 828 964 5.4
Iron deficiency 121 815 0.8
Vitamin A deficiency 252 301 1.7
Zinc deficiency 110 583 0.7
Sub-optimal breastfeeding 365 751 2.4
Other nutrition-related risk factors and physical activity
High blood pressure 1 438 405 9.4
High cholesterol 756 213 4.9
High blood glucose 1 044 497 6.8
Overweight and obesity 343 366 2.2
Behavioural risk factors
Low fruit and vegetable intake 449 583 2.9
Physical inactivity 781 670 5.1
Addictive substances
Tobacco use 1 037 188 6.8
Alcohol use 354 481 2.3
Illicit drug use 72 879 0.5
Sexual and reproductive health
Unsafe sex 331 809 2.2
Unmet contraceptive need 72 526 0.5
Environmental risks
Unsafe water, sanitation, hygiene 598 668 3.9
Urban outdoor air pollution 207 114 1.4
Indoor smoke from solid fuels 630 336 4.1
Lead exposure 70 137 0.5
Global climate change 57 982 0.4
Occupational risks 270 000 1.8
Other selected risks
Unsafe health care injections 121 294 0.8
Child sexual abuse 37 998 0.2
Source: Global health risks, World Health Organization 2009
Annex 5: Regional and global demographic indicators

Country Total Aged Aged Annual growth rate (%) Living in urban areas (%) Median
(millions) under 15 (%) over 60 (%) age (years)
2009 2009 2009 19891999 19992009 1990 2000 2009 2009
Bangladesh 162 31 6 2.0 1.6 20 24 28 24
Bhutan 0.7 31 7 0.0 2.5 16 25 36 24
DPR Korea 24 22 14 1.3 0.5 58 60 63 34
India 1200 31 7 1.9 1.6 26 28 30 25
Indonesia 230 27 9 1.5 1.3 31 42 53 28
Maldives 0.3 28 6 2.5 1.4 26 28 39 24
Myanmar 50 27 8 1.4 0.8 25 28 33 28
Nepal 29 37 6 2.5 2.1 9 13 18 21
Sri Lanka 20 24 12 0.9 0.8 17 16 15 30
Thailand 68 22 11 1.0 0.9 29 31 34 33
Timor-Leste 1.1 45 5 1.2 3.3 21 24 28 17
SEAR 1 784 30 8 1.8 1.5 26 29 33 26
Global 6 817 27 11 1.5 1.2 43 47 50 29
Source: World Health statistics 2011. World Health Organization 2011.


Annex 6: Health expenditure in Member countries of SEAR, 2000 and 2008 comparison

Total expenditure on health General government Out-of-pocket Per capita total Per capita government
as percent of gross expenditure on health as expenditure as percent expenditure on health expenditure on health
domestic product percent of total of private (PPP int. $) (PPP int. $)
government expenditure expenditure on health

Country 2000 2008 2000 2008 2000 2008 2000 2008 2000 2008
Bangladesh 2.8 3.3 7.6 7.4 95.1 96.5 22 44 9 14
Bhutan 6.7 5.5 12.6 13 free services free services 165 263 131 217
DPR Korea ---- ---- ---- ----
India 4.6 4.2 3.9 4.4 92.2 74.4 69 122 19 40
Indonesia 2 2.3 4.5 6.2 72.9 70.3 47 91 17 49
Maldives 8.7 13.7 11.1 13.8 73.8 72 242 769 113 470
Myanmar 2.1 2.3 1.2 0.7 99.2 95.7 12 27 2 2
Nepal 5.1 6 7.7 11.3 91.2 72.4 43 66 11 25
Sri Lanka 3.7 4.1 6.9 7.9 83.3 86.7 101 187 49 82
Thailand 3.4 4.1 9.9 14.2 76.9 68.1 165 328 92 244
Timor-Leste 8.8 13.9 12.7 11.9 43.4 37.2 67 112 48 93
SEAR 3.9 3.8 4.7 5.6 89.4 75.1 64 116 21 46
Source: World Health Statistics 2011, World Health Organization 2011
Annex 7: Health workforce in Member countries of SEAR

Physicians 20002010 Nursing and midwifery Public health workers Community health workers
personnel 20002010 20002010 20002010
Country Number Density* Number Density* Number Density* Number Density*
Bangladesh 43 315 3.0 39 992 2.7 6 091 0.4 48 692 3.3
Bhutan 52 0.2 545 3.2 80 0.4 195 0.9
DPR Korea 74 597 32.9 93 414 41.2 2 685 1.2
India 660 801 6.0 1 430 555 13.0 50 715 0.5
Indonesia 65 722 2.9 465 662 20.4 6 493 0.3
Maldives 552 16.0 1 539 44.5 478 13.8
Myanmar 23 709 4.6 41 424 8.0 2 013 0.4 3 247 0.6
Nepal 5 384 2.1 11 825 4.6 172 0.1 16 206 6.3
Sri Lanka 10 279 4.9 40 678 19.3 2 411 1.1
Thailand 18 918 3.0 96 704 15.2 2 151 0.4
Timor-Leste 79 1.0 1 795 21.9 22 0.3 10 0.1
SEAR 903 408 5.4 2 224 133 13.3 119 543 0.9
Global 9 171 877 14.0 19 379 771 29.7 1 369 772 4.0
Source: World Health Statistics 2011, World Health Organization 2011
* per 10 000 population


Note on data sources and limitations

1. Mortality data presented in Chapter 2 were obtained primarily reports contained limited or disparate information and were not
from estimates presented in the Global Health Observatory (GHO) readily accessible. Moreover, country-specific definitions and
Data Repository 2011, provided in the following website link methodologies limited comparability of data across countries. Most country reports used hospital-based data, sometimes only
den_disease_DTH6_2008.xls. from one location in the country, thus limiting the
representativeness of the data. Some countries used registration
The data presented on the website are for the year 2008 and are
data that were grossly incomplete and underreported. Extensive
updates on estimates of deaths by cause, age and sex using the
efforts were made to locate regional literature and web documents,
same general methods as previous revisions carried out by WHO
and the same have been used extensively in this report.
for 2002 and 2004. Mortality estimates are based on analysis of
latest available national information on levels of mortality and 2. Methods for risk factor data are presented in the Global status
cause distributions as at the end of 2010 together with latest report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Briefly, these data are
available information from WHO programmes, International based on country reported results from national surveys as well as
Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Joint United Nations published and unpublished literature. These data have come from
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for specific causes of public surveys/studies that fulfilled certain criteria such as: a random
health importance and using the 2008 revision of the population sample of the general population, with clearly indicated survey
estimates for WHO Member States prepared by the UN methods (including sample size) and risk factor definitions.
Population Division. Further details of the methods, sources of Adjustments were made for the following factors so that the same
data and the reference year are provided in Annex xx at the end of indicator could be reported for a standard year (in this case 2008)
this document and on the website in all countries: standard risk factor definition, standard set of age
?vid=2490. groups for reporting, and representativeness of the population.
Using regression modeling techniques, crude adjusted rates for
In addition, mortality and morbidity data reported in country
each indicator were produced. To further enable comparison
reports were used wherever available. However, these country

among countries, age-standardized comparable estimates were

focused largely on quantitative indicators, the qualitative aspects
produced by adjusting crude estimates to an artificial population
were not adequately covered. For example, while the survey
structure that closely reflected the age and sex structure of most
focuses on the availability of guidelines, equipments and services
low- and middle-income countries.
in the countries with a yes or no response, it does not elicit crucial
3. Data presented in Chapter 5 were obtained from a capacity aspects related to coverage or quality of services. Third, since this
assessment survey using a structured tool. An important was a self-administered questionnaire, it was not possible to
limitation is that data were reported by the national NCD focal explain or clarify the questions or use probes. Thus, it is possible
persons and may be prone to reporting bias. While the countries that the respondents may not have understood clearly some
had been asked to provide supportive documents for verification, questions or differentiated distinctly between policies, strategies,
these documents were not always provided, or they were not programmes or plans. Therefore responses related to some of the
always in English. Thus, little verification was possible on the questions may not have been accurate. Finally, data on the role of
reported information. Another limitation is that while the survey the private sector, which manages a major share of NCDs, could
not be obtained in the survey.



Noncommunicable Diseases in the South-East Asia Region 2011

Diseases in the
South-East Asia Region

This report describes the current burden of noncommunicable
diseases in the South-East Asia Region, their underlying risk


Situation and Response

factors and socioeconomic determinants. The report also
summarizes the progress countries are making for tackling
the NCD epidemic, provides the base for regional and country
responses, highlights some good country practices and
recommends the way forward in addressing NCDs and risk
factors in a comprehensive and integrated way. The report is
intended for policy-makers in health and development,
health professionals, researchers and academia, and other
Situation and Response
key stakeholders involved in prevention and control of NCDs.