Non-Communicable Diseases

A disease that has a prolonged course of action that do not resolve spontaneously or appear from ‘out of the blues’ and for which a complete cure is rarely achieved is known as Non-communicable disease.

Non- communicable diseases are chronic diseases that do not result from an acute infectious process; hence they are termed “not communicable”. Non communicable disease (NCD are diverse group of diseases that are not transmissible directly from one person to another.

Non-communicable or chronic diseases are often of long duration and generally slow progressive. This category of diseases are identified by WHO (World Health Organization) as ‘Group II Diseases’: the leading cause of death in the world with a 63% of all annual deaths, killing more than 35million people each year.

Most Non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths, about 70% occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Types of Non-Communicable Disease

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are not caused by germs or infections; they may be considered under two categories as follows:

Diseases Caused by Food Deficiencies

A deficiency disease are diseases caused by the lack of an element in the diet, usually a particular vitamin or mineral. Also, a deficiency disease can be best prevented through the eating of adequate and balanced diets with special attention to the often-neglected vitamins and minerals.

Examples of deficiency diseases are:

  1. Anaemia
  2. Beriberi
  3. Kwashiorkor
  4. Malnutrition
  5. Pallegra
  6. Rickets
  7. Scurvy

Diseases Caused by Changes or Growth in the Body Cells:

Some Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) are more common than others. This category with time has been further split into four different sub-groups of diseases, they include:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases such as congenital heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke, coronary artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  2. Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
  3. Chronic Respiratory diseases are diseases affecting the lungs and airways, such as asthma, pulmonary hypertension, black lung, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and other diseases that affect the respiratory system.
  4. Cancer: all types of cancer affecting both men and women fall under this sub-grouping of Non-communicable disease.

Other few common types of non communicable diseases affecting people worldwide that is not found under the two above named categories include:

Risk Factors of Non-Communicable Disease

Non-communicable diseases are responsible for about 70% of all deaths yearly in the world. These diseases affect individuals of all age groups, religions, cultures and countries.

It is often associated with older people. However, about 40% of annual deaths caused by non-communicable diseases occur among people from age 30 to 70.

More than 80% of these deaths are discovered in low- and middle-income countries and in vulnerable communities where access to preventive health care is lacking.

These risk factors, based on WHO grouping as of 2010 include:

  • Modifiable Risk Factors are a group of factors that refers to features and characteristics that a society or individual are influenced in order to improve health outcomes. The World Health Organization listed four major ones against non-communicable diseases. They are physical inactivity, poor diet, tobacco consumption and detrimental alcohol use.
  • Non-modifiable Risk Factors refers to the features that cannot be influenced or changed both by at the individual, environmental or societal level. These factors include; age, sex family history and genetic composition. These are important factors, though they cannot be primary target for interventions, as they affect and partly determine the effectiveness of many prevention and treatment approach.

Certain medical conditions, called metabolic risk factors can as well lead to metabolic syndrome. These metabolic syndromes are closely linked to cardiovascular and renal diseases.

These conditions are: Raised blood pressure (above 130/85mmHg), High triglyceride, Fasting blood glucose level (FBS), waist sizes in both men and women (over 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men) and cholesterol levels.     

Causes of Non-Communicable Diseases

  • Greater than 30% of cancer outbreaks have been linked to obesity and overweight, low adequate nutrient intake, sexually transmitted infections, physical inactivity, air pollution, infectious agent (human papillomvirus infection that causes cervical cancer) and abuse of tobacco.
  • A trend has emerged in 21st century in which numerous studies have revealed some links between fast food and increased number of heart disease. Harvard University and Ryan Mackey Memorial Research Institute conducted some of these studies.
  • A recent emphasis is also on the link between low-grade inflammation that shows atherosclerosis and its possible interventions. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the common inflammatory markers that have been found to be present in increased levels in patients at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Main causes of chronic respiratory diseases are: tobacco smoking, allergens, occupational risks, indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

Historically, many NCDs are associated with the socio-economic drift of societies and are from time, referred to so-called “diseases of the rich”.

With an estimated 80% of Non communicable disease (NCDs) occurring in low- and middle-income countries, the burden of non-communicable diseases in developing countries has increased over the last decade.

Globally, action plans and strategies for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases are falling in place. Though non-communicable diseases seem to be a situation out of control, the causes are however certain of these conditions may be delayed or entirely avoided through some long-range practice of established health principles:

  • Personal and environmental hygiene
  • Low energy- dense, drug-free diet, rich in bioavaliable nutrients is an effective way in preventing NCDs throughout a lifetime.
  • Drug abuse must be combated and made socially and individually unacceptable.
  • Adequate exercising, rest and sleep.
  • Early detection of abnormal symptoms
  • The nutritional value of processed and farmed foods should be made based on the nutritional value of the late Paleolithic human diet to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental ill health.
  • Regular medical check ups
  • Avoidance of smoking and use of tobacco products.
  • Avoidance of excessiveness, especially in eating and drinking.
  • Contentment and peace of mind.
  • Individual education, understanding, participation and general enlightenment are vital.


Treatment of non-communicable disease conditions are solely tied to each disease and its symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies non-communicable diseases as a major public health concern and the leading cause of world deaths.

Persons at risk should be addressed through medical treatment and consultation, and lifestyle modifications to lower the risk of developing these diseases.