NCDs in Myanmar
According to the 2014 STEP survey, almost all adults in Myanmar (94 per cent) have at least one NCD risk factor and 20 per cent of the population live with 3 or more NCD risk factors. The situation is further compounded by the high incidence of NCD-related deaths – 59 per cent of total deaths in Myanmar are due to NCDs [see Figure 2]. An individual has a 25% chance of dying between the ages of 30-70 from one of the four main NCDs (WHO, 2014). Left unchecked, NCDs will have a debilitating effect on Myanmar’s society.
The rise of NCDs in Myanmar is taking place against a backdrop of significant demographic change. Children aged 14 and under accounted for 27.6 per cent of the total population in 2015, meaning that over a quarter of the population is growing up learning lifestyle behaviours that could put them at substantial risk.
At the same time, Myanmar is a society that is rapidly ageing. As mentioned earlier, reduced fertility and increased life expectancy are inadvertent side-effects of the socio-economic success that Myanmar is experiencing. People aged 60 and over currently account for about 9 per cent of the population and this will more than double to about 19 per cent by 2050 (UNDESA, 2015).
In terms of the prevalence of specific NCD risk factors in Myanmar, tobacco use among men is very high with 43.8 per cent smoking tobacco products and 62.2 per cent using smokeless tobacco (betel nut). In terms of unhealthy diet, 86.6 per cent of men and women consume less than the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. Furthermore, 26.4 per cent women and men have raised blood pressure, putting them at risk of heart attacks and/or stroke (STEPS Survey, 2014).