Today: MEDSCAPE - What's Killing Us? The 4 Deadliest Diseases, Oct 18, 2011

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Oct 18, 2011

MEDSCAPE - What's Killing Us? The 4 Deadliest Diseases, Oct 18, 2011

Defining Noncommunicable Diseases

Eli Y. Adashi, MD: Hello. I am Eli Adashi, Professor of Medical Science at Brown University and host of Medscape One-on-One. Joining me today is Dr. Téa Collins, Executive Director of The Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance, a Geneva-based advocacy organization, and expert in the practice and policy of global health. Dr. Collins joins the alliance at a critical time in its relatively brief history. Welcome.

Téa Collins, MD, MPH, MPA, DrPH: Thank you.

Dr. Adashi: Perhaps in the best interest of our viewers we could start by defining what comes under the heading of noncommunicable diseases, and then we could go from there.

Dr. Collins: Definitely. I think the title is somewhat unfortunate because with something that's called "non" it already means that it's not really very important. "Noncommunicable disease" is a relatively new term; we used to call them chronic conditions and chronic diseases, and I think physicians are still more used to this term. The reason we say "noncommunicable disease" in global health right now is because some of the communicable conditions became chronic, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. So to distinguish and differentiate somewhat, we say that these conditions are not communicable when we're talking about cancer, diabetes, or some chronic respiratory infections or cardiovascular diseases. We thought a lot about whether we wanted to continue calling them noncommunicable diseases and exactly because of this reason -- that it's "non" -- the consensus now is to just say noncommunicable diseases.


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