Non-Communicable Disease(s)

A non-communicable disease (NCD) may be defined a disease that is not transmissible directly from one person to another.[1]

What are actually NCDs?
NCDs are not very well defined in the literature. NCDs are by definition diseases that are not transmissible directly from one person to another, and thus include Parkinson's disease, autoimmune diseases, strokes, most heart diseases, most cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts,[1], and many more[4].

NCDs may often be the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors. NCDs are (most often) chronic, i.e. diseases of long duration and generally slow progression.[2] Mental disorders are not transmissible and are by definition NCDs, but are most often considered a separate entity (see box).

NCDs may according to this definition be either chronic or acute, may include some diseases that result from infections (such as cervical cancer, which is most often caused by sexual transmission of human papilloma virus, HPV), and may even comprise mental disorders[5][6].

However, mental disorders are most often considered as a separate entity, and NCDs are most often considered chronic diseases.

The four main types of noncommunicable diseases according to WHO

  1. Cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke)
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma)
  4. Diabetes

Mental disorders are most often not included when discussing NCDs (see box).

Noncommunicable diseases are by far the leading cause of death in the world, representing 71% of all annual deaths, i.e. more than 41 million deaths in one year. Some 80% of all NCD deaths are the result of the four main types of NCDs mentioned above. About 85% of all NCD premature deaths (people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years) occur in low- and middle-income countries.[2]


NCDs kill more lives than infectious diseases and malnutrition and is a larger global health challenge than communicable diseases. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General WHO: «Norway is the first OECD DAC member to launch a development cooperation strategy to combat NCDs.» Picture right: Director General WHO, during the launch, November 2019.[3].