The increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in low-middle income countries: the view from Malawi.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally, the majority of these being due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, or diabetes. Mortality from many NCDs continues to increase worldwide, with a disproportionately larger impact in low-middle income countries (LMIs), where almost 75% of global deaths occur from these causes. As a low-income African country that consistently ranks amongst the world’s poorest nations, Malawi as a case study demonstrates how transition due to societal change and increasing urbanization is often accompanied by a rise in the rate of NCDs. Other factors apart from changing lifestyle factors can explain at least some of this increase, such as the complex relationship between communicable and NCD and growing environmental, occupational, and cultural pressures. Malawi and other LMIs are struggling to manage the increasing challenge of NCDs, in addition to an already high communicable disease burden. However, health care policy implementation, specific health promotion campaigns, and further epidemiological research may be key to attenuating this impending health crisis, both in Malawi and elsewhere. This review aims to examine the effects of the major NCDs in Malawi to help inform future public health care policy in the region.