Social distancing markers on floor of Dublin supermarket (Simon Roughneen)
Social distancing markers on floor of Dublin supermarket (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Most countries are failing to curb non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cancer, a situation made worse by coronavirus-related disruptions to health systems.

Only six countries are on track to cut deaths from such conditions by a third by 2030, according to research published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, referencing commitments made in 2015 as part of the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals.”

The coronavirus pandemic has “disrupted the regular care often required by patients” affected by NCDs, which include heart disease and chronic respiratory disease. People affected by the conditions are in turn among the most vulnerable to serious illness if infected with the virus.

“Right now NCDs are intensifying the impact of Covid-19,” said Bente Mikkelsen of the World Health Organization, who co-authored the report with academics from Imperial College London.

Worldwide, 26 million cases of the novel virus have been diagnosed, with over 863,000 related deaths, according to officially reported numbers collated by Johns Hopkins University.

But NCDs cause of “seven of ten deaths worldwide”, killing around 40 people a year and 17 million “prematurely,” according to The Lancet, which sounded the latest stark warning that adjustments to health care due to the pandemic are “severely disrupting” treatment and prevention of other conditions.

Britain’s University of Birmingham said in April that 28.4 million elective surgeries could be cancelled worldwide due to the pandemic. The Stop TB Partnership warned the following month that an extra 1.4 million people could die from tuberculosis by 2025 due to coronavirus-related neglect.

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