NCDs: a further perspective on the costs of pollution

abstract-583723_1920In a month that has seen air pollution identified as the leading environmental health risk in Europe, shown to be absorbed into the placentas of pregnant women, and linked to increased risk of developing dementia, it is worth reflecting on some of the known health impacts of this persistent problem.

Across the world, in both developed and developing countries, air pollution remains a leading contributor to the incidence of NCDs.

The Lancet Global Health released a study conclusively linking high exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution in India’s northern states to the high burden of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Polluted air also raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers, according to this first-ever multi-centric public-private study of five NCDs across India.

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Preventable carnage

Why Dr James Hospedales, the Chair of the Defeat-NCD Partnership, is passionate about NCDs


In 1988 I had a real wakeup call when some of the most important men in my life – one being my boss, my step-father, my uncle – all died from some form of NCD. At that time they were all between 50 and 55 years of age. For me, this was a call telling me to be much more attentive to my lifestyle moving forward. Dr Kapila reminds me that when we were trainees in Cambridge together, a long time ago, I used to go on talking about NCDs. And that would have been around 1988 when I had that shock in my life.

I was very happy when Dr Kapila asked me to Chair the Governing Board. I really see that this Partnership is needed.

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Changing the health

paradigm one country at a time

Harald NusserHarald Nusser, Global Head, Novartis Social Business and Defeat-NCD Partnership Board Member

It was in October 2015 and I remember how pleased I felt that Novartis Access and the Government of Kenya were signing a Memorandum of Understanding. Our company was now going to be able to bring a portfolio of affordable drugs to treat NCDs to Kenya, a country plagued – like so many other lower-income countries – by the rising incidence of chronic illnesses.

When I met Mary a few days after the launch, I saw first hand the reality that NCD patients face and the devastating consequences of limited access to care.

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Salt, wonderful salt

salt-1914130_1920Cultures worldwide have always used salt. In Judaism salt sealed a bargain with God as it did in Islam. The salt tax helped justify the French Revolution in people’s minds and Mahatma Gandhi protested a similar tax on salt that sparked the march towards Indian independence. To conserve food or make it taste good, salt is an embedded part of the culture. In Japan, salt is sacred and cleanses. Twenty-nine percent of people in Japan have CVDs. In Haiti salt cures a zombie – in case the zombie apocalypse is on its way, this might be useful to know.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) salt consumption is too high for everyone. The World Cancer Research Fund has researched links between salt consumption and cancer.

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