Population Bodies and Chronic Diseases

How Terminal Illnesses Are Affecting Developing and Developed Nations

According to cdc.gov, in the year 2013, over 2.5 million Americans died at a death rate of 821.5 deaths per 100,000 population. Among the other interesting statistics that litter the webpage, one of the more interesting is the number of deaths per leading causes of death. The number one, two, and three spots are claimed by, respectively, heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. All three of these chronic illnesses combined claimed a total of 1.35 million lives.

Despite the United States’ low mortality rates and above-average life expectancy of about eighty years, in comparison to other nations around the world, the nation is still a generally good example of what chronic disease can do to a developed country that is having increasing difficulty in solving its own financial crises. On the opposite end of the spectrum, over with developing and underdeveloped countries, the statistics are not as mild. In another statistic that the World Health Organization published, eighty per cent of deaths caused by chronic diseases occur in low and middle income nations, half of which are in women. In a similar statistic, in the year 2005, chronic diseases alone claimed a peaking number of thirty-five million global lives.

As is probably evident, it would not be difficult to talk about and discuss the ambiguities and general stats that are available about chronic diseases and how they’re cluttering vulnerable, global populations. But the foundation of a more interesting and revealing discussion would not lie in what everybody already knows and widely accepts; it would lie in what everyone does not know, or is least aware of, and an example of such a foundation would be the reasons and primary causes for these chronic and noncommunicable diseases that sprout not during old or even middle age years, but during youth.

The World Health Organization has done a lot in the past to try and communicate this idea, and has stated that the four, primary risk factors for these terminal illnesses are tobacco, alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. Excessive involvement in the two substances or association with the two malnourishments at early ages set the stage for chronic illness later in life. This is a scene most commonly found in undeveloped, underdeveloped, or still developing countries with middle to low income and poor qualities of life. When an ever-growing number of these nations’ youths has to resort to other, less favorable means of care and income, such as drugs and other methods of trafficking and substance abuse, it foreshadows the inevitable increase on more World Health Organization documents of chronic disease statistics and deaths in the years to come.

There are, however, equally important statistics other than death rates that must be understood in order to fully comprehend the issue of disease in middle and low income countries. According to an article published on prb.org, one such statistic that is quite salient is the age at which noncommunicable diseases strike. Poorer countries, such as some found in Sub-Saharan Africa, experience more frequent strikes of noncommunicable diseases at younger ages, whereas richer countries inhabit the opposite. A supporting factor of the former is the tobacco industry’s targeting of its campaigns to new smokers in developing regions, most certainly aiding in their economic growth while depressingly and simultaneously increasing the percentage of young smokers and tobacco users, all contributing to the larger, looming picture that is chronic disease.

With all of this circulation and attention that our world’s epidemics and Medicare problems are receiving, the time has well passed now where people had to start looking for viable solutions. Among the other options available, one such option is improving how we do population health management. By aggregating patient data across a multitude of health information technology resources in order to better understand how groups and populations of people are developing sickness patterns and other common causes that contribute to high mortality rates, it’s far easier to achieve successful insights and results. “Technological Innovations in health IT and the fast approaching implementation of ICD-10 will permit sharing of data at the international level which would not only allow better patient diagnosis but also help in identifying various epidemics at an early stage”. – Bilal Hasmat, CEO CureMD

Improved population health management can also be beneficial in producing more cost-effective and dollar-saving ways of treatment, especially in countries that have healthcare systems designed for treating the short-term instead of the long-term, such as that found in the United States.

For example, forahealthieramerica.com says that, in the U.S., heart diseases and strokes, two leading causes of death, drive healthcare costs at a damaging rate of $432 billion per year. Chronic disease treatment is at a minimal and plays a very large part in the healthcare crisis the nation still faces today, alongside obesity and diabetes. Healthcare improvements have to be made before any progress can, and this is addressing one of the most developed nations in the world. Imagine the conflicts that developing and underdeveloped nations are being forced to struggle with.

Another overriding difficulty that Americans specifically face are, as touched on above, rising healthcare costs. Twenty-five per cent of Americans with chronic diseases face some sort of activity limitation, as mentioned on the same website, which may include being restricted from or needing help with personal tasks, like bathing and getting dressed, and may even prevent them from attending school and or work altogether. A disabled American who cannot provide for him or herself financially or physically could not have it worse. This specific scenario supports the growing need for population health management and overall healthcare improvements in just the United States alone.

The many attributes and factors that make up the worldwide issue of controlling chronic disease, such as the financial cost, the work needed, and the human cost itself, cannot be passed or shoved along to someone else to fix. It’s an issue that everyone is facing, in one way or another, and an issue that everyone has to take some part in solving. No matter how it’s done or the motivations behind it, it’s time to stop focusing on what we want to be done, and time to start focusing on the more prevalent issues that must be taken care of.


Author Bio

Daniel Schwartz is a content strategist who sheds light on various engaging and informative topics related to the health IT industry. His belief in technology, compliance and cost reduction have opened new horizons for people in the health care industry. He is passionate about topics such as Affordable Care Act, EHR, revenue cycle management, and privacy and security of patient health data. He can be contacted at daniel.schwartz@curemd.com