This section looks at disease in the population and how this is likely to change over the next 20 years. We look at trends in mortality rates, rates of chronic disease, and the interdependence between mental and physical health problems, followed by a review of disease and disability in the population.
- The number of people with some diseases will double over the next 20 years
For example, by 2030 there will be 17 million people with arthritis and 3 million with cancer. Why is this? More people are living longer; risk factors such as obesity and inactivity are increasing; many diseases are easier to treat.
- The number of people with more than one long-term condition is also growing rapidly
By 2018 the number of people with three or more long-term conditions is predicted to rise from 1.9 million to 2.9 million.
- By 2030 the number of older people with care needs is predicted to rise by 61 per cent
Old age can trigger a number of debilitating conditions, including sight and hearing loss and dementia.
- Significant health inequalities are likely to persist
People in more deprived populations often have higher rates of disease – eg, heart disease – and more than one disease.
- Continuing threats from communicable disease
The number of cases of HIV are continuing to rise. Anti-microbial resistant bacteria could undermine the effectiveness of some medicines.
- Population lifestyles will be a critical determinant of future pattern of disease
A change in population lifestyles offers the greatest opportunity to reduce the burden of chronic disease.
- Future lifestyles: it is unclear whether current behavioural trends will continue or reverse
Obesity rates could continue to rise, flatten or fall, and the same is true for smoking, physical activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables and alcohol consumption.
- Future medical advances
Cures may be found for major disease areas such as dementia, but the rate at which this might be achieved is highly uncertain.
- Risks from communicable disease
Globalisation increases the threat of global pandemics, but improved surveillance and analytical capacity strengthen the capacity to manage such a threat. The scale of threat posed by antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is also highly uncertain.