Introduction: Non communicable diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. Beside mortality, these diseases also cause high rates of morbidity and disability. Their high prevalence is generally associated to multi-morbidity. Because they need costly prolonged treatment and care, non communicable diseases have social and economical consequences that affect individuals, households and the whole society. They raise the equity problem between and within countries.
Methods and limitations: This annotated bibliography is a systematic review on multimorbidy of non communicable diseases and health equity in WHO Eastern Mediterranean countries. Medline/PubMed, EMBASE and other sources were used to get peer reviewed papers dealing with the review theme. The words/strings used for search and inclusion criteria were: multimorbidity, comorbidity, equity, non communicable diseases, chronic diseases, WHO Eastern Mediterranean and Arab countries.
Bibliography with annotations: According to the inclusion criteria, 26 papers were included in the present review. Generally, lack or paucity of publications was encountered in themes like headache, cancer and respiratory diseases. Of the 26 contributions selected, twelve dealt with comorbidity of depression and mental disorders with other chronic diseases. Another set of 11 publications was devoted to multimorbidity of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), hypertension, metabolic syndrome and obesity. Considering association of multimorbidity and social determinants, this review shows that female gender, low income, low level of education, old age and unemployed/retired are the most exposed to multimorbidity. It should also be stressed that, geographically, no contribution was issued from North African countries.Non communicable diseases are one of the biggest challenges facing health decision makers in WHO Eastern Mediterranean countries where the multidimensional transition is boosting increases in multimorbidity of depression and mental diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases among the whole population but with the highest burden among the least disadvantaged individuals or subpopulations. Health ministries in WHO Eastern Mediterranean countries should pay a particular attention to the association between equity and multimorbidity and opt for cost effective strategies based on early diagnosis and sensitisation for healthy diet, physical activity, no smoking and no alcohol.