Chronic, non-communicable diseases account for a growing burden of the world’s illnesses and in New York City are the leading causes of continued socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health.
Between 2002 and 2030, the mortality rates for heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes type 2 are expected to increase by almost 20 percent worldwide while infectious disease rates are expected to decline by more than 40 percent. In high-income countries, the rates for chronic disease are expected to increase by 11.5 percent while the rates for infectious diseases will decline by almost 15 percent. Chronic diseases are not the inevitable consequence of aging, but unless the United States and other countries find new ways to reduce their burden, they will impose a growing health and economic cost.
The United States is spending about 17 percent of its gross domestic product on health care – more than twice the average of other industrialized nations. Furthermore, annual health care costs are growing about twice the rate of inflation, and recent estimates are that by 2016, annual expenses will be about 20 percent of the gross domestic product. Such expenditures are not sustainable in a global economy; hence the development of knowledge and practices to reduce the burden of chronic diseases are a major goal of the CUNY School of Public Health.
Experts agree that control of chronic diseases will require the integration of genetic, biological, economic, environmental and sociocultural knowledge to inform interdisciplinary, multi-level interventions that address the full spectrum of the life course. By using these diverse disciplinary perspectives to inform its curriculum and research agenda, the CUNY School of Public Health will contribute the health professionals, practices, research and policy that can bring chronic diseases under control.