According to the World Health Organisation, noncommunicable diseases cause 38 million deaths annually and deaths from noncommunicable diseases are likely to increase globally by 17% over the next 10 years. An estimated 14 million people die prematurely in developing countries from preventable heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers and asthma, with major negative consequences for socio-economic development. As widely reported, this epidemic of noncommunicable diseases is the result of increased exposure to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, as well as inadequate health care services.
In a recent communication to the World Health Organization following discussions which took place at the high level segment of ECOSOC (UN’s Economic and Social Council) in July 2009 in Geneva, WSMI outlined the important role of self-care in healthcare systems. Effective strategies to address non-communicable diseases improve the opportunities for people to look after themselves better (and thus prevent disease). Nonprescription medicines contribute to disease prevention and positive health behaviours by helping people to feel better equipped and more motivated to look after themselves through self-care. Self-care and self-medication with nonprescription medicines thus can play a fundamental role in the global battle against noncommunicable diseases.