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Chronic non-communicable diseases remain the leading cause of death in Cuba

Tabaco salud“The mortality rate due to chronic non-communicable diseases is the highest, with 731.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants,” states the Health Statistics Yearbook, in its 45th edition, with updated information until 2016, and recently published by the Directorate of Medical Records and Health Statistics of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.

The document confirms what has been a trend in the country’s morbidity and mortality rates for years, with the list of the leading ten causes of death topped by heart diseases, with a rate of 217.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, followed closely by malignant tumors, with a rate of 216.3. “Both causes account for 49.1% of all deaths in 2016.”

In addition, the 2016 Health Statistics Yearbook reveals that the mortality rate due to cerebrovascular diseases has increased, together with the potential years of life lost to these diseases, while its mortality rates according to sex have equalized. Meanwhile, excess mortality was reported for females due to diabetes mellitus.

Heart diseases top the list of the leading ten causes of death in Cuba. Photo: Juvenal Balán
The report warns: “66.0% of deaths due to heart disease occur due to ischemic diseases, of which 44.4% are due to acute myocardial infarction. Female excess mortality is reported, due to heart failure and chronic rheumatic heart disease.”

With regard to cancer, the document notes that the highest cancer death rates are due to malignant trachea, bronchus and lung tumors, followed by malignant tumors of the intestine, except the rectum, and other tumors of the lymphatic tissue and hematopoietic organs.

For both men and women “the highest mortality rate corresponds to malignant tumors of the trachea, bronchi and lung; for men, these are followed by malignant tumors of the prostate, the intestine, except the rectum, the larynx and the urinary tract; and for women, the breast, intestine, except the rectum, and tumors in other parts of the uterus, and those not specified, all with rates in excess of 11 per 100,000 inhabitants.”

According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases will not only be the leading causes of disability worldwide by 2020, but will also become the most costly problem facing health systems.

The statistics cited show that Cuba is not exempt from this context, thus insisting on prevention, that the population assumes healthy lifestyles, and increasingly implementing health policies aimed at reducing these risk factors is essential.

Tobacco, for example, is the single most preventable cause of death in the world and a relevant element in chronic non-communicable diseases. However, although the overall prevalence of smoking in our country has declined, in certain age groups such as adolescents aged between 13 and 15, tobacco use has increased, according to the results of the 2010 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

In addition, statistics show that more than half of all Cuban families are exposed to cigarette smoke: 54% of Cuban families, 65% of children, 51% of pregnant women and 60% of adolescents are exposed to this pollutant.


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