Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic illnesses that cannot be passed from person to person. NCDs accounted for 70% of the 56 million global deaths in 2015, and are now the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in almost every world region. The main causes of NCD deaths in 2015 were cardiovascular diseases (45% of all NCD deaths), cancers (22%), chronic respiratory diseases (7%) and diabetes (4%).
However, as populations age, and mortality rates from NCDs fall, it is the long term consequences of living with NCDs that impose the greatest burden on societies worldwide, and the biggest challenge to health and social care systems. Eighteen NCDs (including five mental disorders) are among the top 20 global contributors to Years Lived with Disability (YLDs) in the latest data from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD 2015). Population ageing, and changes in lifestyles and behaviour are resulting in a disproportionate increase in burden in lower income countries. In 2015, over three quarters of NCD deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, nearly half of these before the age of 70.
KGHI’s work on non-communicable diseases draws on particular strengths among the research groups in our Centre for Global Ageing, our Centre for Global Mental Health (in partnership with LSHTM), the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, the Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships, and King’s Dental Institute.
Health conditions studied include mental and neurological conditions, dementia, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and oral health. Our work encompasses the epidemiology and burden of disease, health and social policy, health service and system research, and critical social science. But, consistent with our Institute’s core mission, our priority is to improve the delivery of evidence-based continuing care for chronic diseases in resource-limited low and middle income countries, where the coverage of care is currently low, and optimal outcomes are not being achieved. This is a broad and highly interdisciplinary research agenda, involving over 50 KGHI Faculty including social scientists, clinicians (physicians, psychologists, nurses and physiotherapists), epidemiologists, health economists, and biostatisticians.