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Lancet. 2014 Jan 25;383(9914):356-67. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62383-1. Epub 2014 Jan 20.

Non-communicable diseases in the Arab world.

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Department of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar. Electronic address:
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
Department of Community Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan.
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
WHO, Regional Office of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo, Egypt.
Community-based Initiatives Department, Ministry of Health, Muscat, Oman.
Department of Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Department of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar; Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Ramallah, West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory.


According to the results of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the burden of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes) in the Arab world has increased, with variations between countries of different income levels. Behavioural risk factors, including tobacco use, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity are prevalent, and obesity in adults and children has reached an alarming level. Despite epidemiological evidence, the policy response to non-communicable diseases has been weak. So far, Arab governments have not placed a sufficiently high priority on addressing the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases, with variations in policies between countries and overall weak implementation. Cost-effective and evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions have already been identified. The implementation of these interventions, beginning with immediate action on salt reduction and stricter implementation of tobacco control measures, will address the rise in major risk factors. Implementation of an effective response to the non-communicable-disease crisis will need political commitment, multisectoral action, strengthened health systems, and continuous monitoring and assessment of progress. Arab governments should be held accountable for their UN commitments to address the crisis. Engagement in the global monitoring framework for non-communicable diseases should promote accountability for effective action. The human and economic burden leaves no room for inaction.

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