Chronic diseases: the silent global epidemic

Br J Nurs. 2008;17(21):1320-5. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2008.17.21.31731.


In most industrialized nations and many developing countries chronic diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death. In 2005, chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes caused 58 million deaths worldwide (World Health Organization, 2005). Despite strong evidence for the magnitude of this burden, the preventability of NCD causes and the threat they pose to already strained healthcare systems, national and global responses have been slow. This article provides a global overview of chronic diseases. It further explores the impact of globalization as an important determinant of NCD epidemics. Finally, in addition to working alongside policy-makers, the fundamental roles of nursing to promote health, prevent disease and alleviate suffering call for expression of caring for humanity and environment through political activism at all levels to bring about reforms of current global economic order.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Cause of Death
  • Chronic Disease* / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease* / prevention & control
  • Cost of Illness
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease Management
  • Faculty, Nursing / organization & administration
  • Forecasting
  • Global Health*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Nurse's Role*
  • World Health Organization