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Globally health is changing rapidly and in many countries millions of people are dying from preventable diseases. The World Health Organization calculates that two thirds of an estimated annual 56 million deaths are due to non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.

Obesity is a key determinant of these diseases and yet, at the other extreme, over 7.5 million preschool children die each year from malnutrition. Cardiovascular diseases alone represented 30 per cent of global deaths in 2012. About three quarters of the global NCD deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, and infectious diseases including AIDS/HIV and other immunisable diseases, still affect many people in developing and developed countries alike.

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