Background: The 2012 World Health Assembly set a target for Member States to reduce premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality by 25% over the period 2010 to 2025. This reflected concerns about increasing NCD mortality burdens among productive adults globally. This article first considers whether the WHO target of a 25% reduction in the unconditional probability of dying between ages of 30 and 70 from NCDs (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory diseases) has already taken place in Sweden during an equivalent 15-year period. Secondly, it assesses which population sub-groups have been more or less successful in contributing to overall changes in premature NCD mortality in Sweden.
Methods: A retrospective dynamic cohort database was constructed from Swedish population registers in the Linnaeus database, covering the entire population in the age range 30 to 69 years for the period 1991 to 2006, which was used directly to measure reductions in premature NCD mortality using a life table method as specified by the WHO. Multivariate Poisson regression models were used to assess the contributions of individual background factors to decreases in premature NCD mortality.
Results: A total of 292,320 deaths occurred in the 30 to 69 year age group during the period 1991 to 2006, against 70,768,848 person-years registered. The crude all-cause mortality rate declined from 5.03 to 3.72 per 1,000 person-years, a 26% reduction. Within this, the unconditional probability of dying between the ages of 30 and 70 from NCD causes as defined by the WHO fell by 30.0%. Age was consistently the strongest determinant of NCD mortality. Background determinants of NCD mortality changed significantly over the four time periods 1991-1994, 1995-1998, 1999-2002, and 2003-2006.
Conclusions: Sweden, now at a late stage of epidemiological transition, has already exceeded the 25% premature NCD mortality reduction target during an earlier 15-year period. This should be encouraging news for countries currently implementing premature NCD mortality reduction programmes. Our findings suggest, however, that it may be difficult for Sweden and other late-transition countries to reach the current 25 × 25 target, particularly where substantial premature mortality reductions have already been achieved.