Double Burden of Disease

Many low- and middle-income countries are now facing a double burden of disease. While they continue to deal with the problems of infectious disease, at the same time they are experiencing a rapid upsurge in chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

NCDs such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory diseases and cancers are replacing HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases as the principal causes of morbidity and mortality around the world. NCDs make up two-thirds of all deaths globally, due to the population aging and the spread of risk factors associated with globalization and urbanization.

In addition, many developing countries continue to battle communicable diseases and other health issues that are most likely to kill children under age five years.


36 million of the 57 million global deaths in 2008 were due to NCDs.

33 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV.

3.3 billion people—half of the world’s population—are at risk of malaria.

7.4 million deaths in 2004 were due to cancer; that number is projected to rise to 12 million in 2030.

220 million people worldwide have diabetes.


1. World Health Organization. World Health Statistics 2011. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 2011.

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