Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Deaths from NCDs


Of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63%, were due to noncommunicable diseases. The four main NCD are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. The burden of these diseases is rising disproportionately among lower income countries and populations. In 2008, nearly 80% of noncommunicable disease deaths -- 29 million -- occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

The leading causes of NCD deaths in 2008 were cardiovascular diseases (17 million deaths, or 48% of all NCD deaths), cancers (7.6 million, or 21% of all NCD deaths), and respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.2 million). Diabetes caused another 1.3 million deaths.

Across the WHO Regions, with the exception of the African region, deaths from noncommunicable diseases exceeded those from communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions combined. For men in the WHO European Region, deaths from noncommunicable diseases were 13 times higher than these other causes combined, and for men in the WHO Western Pacific region, they were 8 times higher.

The overall noncommunicable diseases age-standardized death rates for all ages in low- and middle-income countries were 756 per 100,000 for males and 565 per 100,000 for females - 65% and 85% higher respectively than for males and females in high income countries in 2008. Age-standardized male noncommunicable diseases mortality rates for all ages were highest in the African region for males (844 per 100,000) and for females (724 per 100,000).