AN estimated 68 per cent of deaths that occurred in Jamaica in 2008 were attributable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which results primarily from cardiovascular diseases, tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets.
The statistics are contained in the first Global Status Report on Non-Communicable Diseases, compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and show cardiovascular diseases accounting for 32 per cent of the deaths in the island, while 21 per cent of all deaths were due to communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions.
Cancer was the cause of 15 per cent of deaths and another 11 per cent of deaths were caused by injuries.
Respiratory diseases and diabetes accounted for 10 per cent, seven per cent and four per cent respectively.
The global report was first released in April of this year, and relied heavily on data gathered from the various countries and estimates from WHO. The organisation found that more than 36 million people died worldwide from NCDs in 2008, mainly cardiovascular diseases (48 per cent), cancers (21 per cent), chronic respiratory diseases (12 per cent) and diabetes (three per cent).
Increasing concerns over the high levels of mortality from NCDs and the threat it poses to development, resulted in the United Nations calling a high-level meeting to discuss the prevention and control of NCDs earlier this week at its New York headquarters.
"More than a quarter of all people who die from NCDs succumb in the prime of their lives," noted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
"The vast majority live in developing countries. Millions of families are pushed into poverty each year when one of their members have become too weak to work; or when the costs of medicines and treatments overwhelm the family budget; or when the main breadwinner has to stay home to care for someone else who is sick," he said, while describing the statistics on NCDs as "alarming".
According to the WHO 2011 report, eight females and six males in every 1,000 persons that died in Jamaica, did so from NCDs; with 20 per cent males and 17 per cent females under 60 years old accounting for all deaths resulting from NCDs.
For every 100,000 individuals that died, 497 males and 479 females did so from NCDs and another 126 males and 120 females died from cancer. Chronic respiratory diseases claimed the lives of 51 males and 42 females out of every 100,000 persons, while cardiovascular diseases and diabetes were responsible for 246 males and 248 females in every
As it relates to behaviour risk factors, the WHO global status report on non-communicable diseases showed that 17 per cent males and eight per cent females smoked tobacco, while females (51 per cent) tended to be more physically inactive than males (44 per cent).
More males (42 per cent) the report showed had higher blood pressure levels than females (38 per cent), but more females (12 per cent) had higher glucose levels than males (10 per cent).
Females were almost twice as likely to be overweight and three times more likely to be obese than males. According to the report, 40 per cent of the males and 70 per cent of the females in the population were overweight while 10 per cent males and 37 per cent females were obese.
In his remarks to the UN general assembly, Ki-Moon called for more collaboration, as the prognosis for NCDs was grim.
"We should encourage individuals to make the smart choices that will protect their health. Exercise, eat well, limit alcohol consumption and stop smoking," he said.
"Addressing NCDs is critical for global public health, but it will also be good for the economy; for the environment; for the global public good in the broadest sense. If we come together to tackle NCDs, we can do more than heal individuals -- we can safeguard our very future," he said.
NCDs accounted for an estimated 84 per cent of the deaths in Cuba, 82 per cent in Barbados, 78 per cent in Trinidad & Tobago, 66 per cent in Guyana and 41 per cent in Haiti in 2008.