While there's certainly been significant progress in the fight against infectious disease around the globe, a study recently published in Neurology points out another category of diseaseÂ that many developing nations are notÂ prepared to fight - non-communicable chronic diseases, such as Parkinson's.Â The study focused on Western Europe's 5 largest countries and the 10 most populous nations worldwide and found that the number of individualsÂ with Parkinson's will likely grow from around 4.1 million to around 8.7 million by 2030.
The growth in chronic diseases such as Parkinson's is one of the unfortunate byproducts of development. Economic growth and the corresponding improvements in health care and education are increasing the life expectancy of individuals in the developing world. In terms of the rise in chronic diseases, the key factor is not overall population growth but rather the number of people over age 65 and thus at risk of developing Parkinson's and other chronic conditions. Furthermore, as income grows, so too does health care spending which, in turn, increases the duration of illness and the overall number of people with a particular disease.
The researchers explain that developing countries are likely to take a big economic hit because of the costs associated with treating a larger population with chronic illnesses. It'll be interesting to see if governments and charitable groups begin spending more to combat these diseases.