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How Lucky Am I?

"Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?" (Quran, Al-Rahman)

Health is wealth but is not cherished until we lose it. When in pain, there seems nothing in the world as precious and dear than health. Life with all its colours, music and joys suddenly appears to be in black and white. We pledge to ourselves (and to God at times) to be sensitive and grateful as soon as we regain health. It feels like an intense revelation, having a lasting impact on our perception of the gifts of life that we so generously ignore while we are healthy. Unfortunately, it does not take long before this insight is lost and forgotten like a bad dream.

The facts below are compiled to refresh our memories and to make us more sensitive of the gift that we may have or may not have in future.

Disease or AilmentBrief DescriptionNo. of Sufferers
Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain syndrome characterized by a progressive decline in memory, thinking, comprehension, calculation, language, learning capacity and judgment. The rate of occurrence of the disease increases exponentially with age.

Scientists also have found other brain changes in people with AD. Nerve cells die in areas of the brain that are vital to memory and other mental abilities, and connections between nerve cells are disrupted. There also are lower levels of some of the chemicals in the brain that carry messages back and forth between nerve cells.

18-24 million
Arthritis Arthritis comprises a variety of diseases and related conditions that affect the movable joints of the body: knees, wrists, elbows, fingers, toes, hips, and shoulders. Affected joints no longer glide smoothly past one another and cause pain and deformity.

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and a leading cause of work disability. Arthritis limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing, bathing and other physical activities. It affects people in all age groups including children and youth.

355 million
Asthma Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. Symptoms may occur several times in a day or week in affected individuals, and for some people become worse during physical activity or at night. During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs. Recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels and school and work absenteeism.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. 255 000 people died of asthma in 2005. Asthma deaths will increase by almost 20% in the next 10 years.

300 million
Blindness and Visual Impairment The condition of lacking sight. There are over 37 million blind people in the world. 161 million
Cancer Cancer is a generic term for a group of more than 100 diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells which grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, a process referred to as metastasis.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide accounting for 13% of all deaths (7.6 million people). The main types of cancer leading to death include lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer. Deaths from cancer in the world are projected to continue rising.

40% of cancer can be prevented by a healthy diet, physical activity and not using tobacco.

24.6 million1
Cardiovascular diseases Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and is the number one cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2005, about one third of global deaths. The most important causes of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease 2–3 fold. At least 20 million survive heart attack and strokes each year. millions and millions
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage kidneys and decrease their ability to keep you healthy. If kidney disease gets worse, wastes can build to high levels in blood and make you feel sick. Complications may develop, like high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. It involves risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function leading to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or transplantation. Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced.

Kidney disease also increases the risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. Heart disease is the major cause of death for people with CKD. While hypertension is one of the causes of CKD, CKD itself causes hypertension. Globally about 500 million individuals have some form of chronic kidney disease.

500 million
Deafness And Hearing Impairment Hearing impairment is a broad term used to describe the loss of hearing in one or both ears. According to 2005 estimates, 278 million people worldwide have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. In developing countries, fewer than 1 in 40 people who would benefit from a hearing aid have one. 278 million
Depression Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities.

Depression occurs in persons of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide. People with depression are four times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. Women experience depression at twice the rate of men. Depression is one of the major causes of suicide worldwide.

154 million
Diabetes Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or alternatively, when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. Over time it leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, including the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

In 2005, over 2 million people died from or because of diabetes. Diabetes deaths will increase by more than 50% in the next 10 years.

180 million
Epilepsy A group of disorders marked by problems in the normal functioning of the brain. These problems can produce seizures, unusual body movements, a loss of consciousness or changes in consciousness, as well as mental problems or problems with the senses. When nerve cells in the brain fire electrical impulses at a rate higher than normal, this causes a sort of electrical storm in the brain, known as a seizure.

The mortality rate among people with epilepsy is two to three times higher than the general population and the risk of sudden death is 24 times greater.

50 million
Haemoglobin Disorders Haemoglobin disorders are inherited blood diseases that affect how oxygen is carried in the body. Haemoglobin disorders fall into two main categories: sickle-cell disease and thalassaemias. Sickle-cell disease involves shortened red blood cell survival, and subsequent anaemia. Poor blood oxygen levels and blood vessel blockages in people can lead to chronic acute pain syndromes, severe bacterial infections, and tissue death.

Thalassaemias are also inherited blood disorders. People with thalassemia are not able to make enough haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Organs become starved for oxygen and are unable to function properly.

Each year over 300,000 babies with severe forms of these diseases are born worldwide

millions
Hepatitis B (Chronic, lifelong) Hepatitis B is one of the major diseases of mankind. It is preventable with effective vaccines. Of the 2 billion people infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 350 million have chronic (lifelong) infections. These chronically infected persons are at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, diseases that kill about one million persons each year. 350 million
HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease characterized by the destruction of the immune system. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. By killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, HIV progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. People diagnosed with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections, which are caused by microbes such as viruses or bacteria that usually do not make healthy people sick.

People with AIDS are also particularly prone to developing various cancers. These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS.. There were 4.3 million new infections in 2006.

39.5 million
Migraine Migraine is a disorder characterized by intense throbbing pain, often in one area of the head that may be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting or extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine is three times more common in women than in men. Some individuals can predict the onset of a migraine because it is preceded by an "aura," visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zig-zag lines or a temporary loss of vision. People with migraine tend to have recurring attacks triggered by a lack of food or sleep, exposure to light, or hormonal irregularities (only in women). Anxiety, stress, or relaxation after stress can also be triggers.

326 million
Obesity Obesity involves having abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, 20% or more than the maximum desirable for one's height. Overweight and obesity lead to serious health consequences inluding heart disease and stroke, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders especially osteoporosis and some cancers.

In addition, there are many socio-psychological consequences of obesity.

400 million2
Osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by an excessive decrease in bone mass. The bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly.

Around one in three women and one in seven men over the age of 50 years will at some stage suffer a bone fracture as a result of osteoporosis. As life expectancy increases, the frequency of such fractures is increasing throughout the world. 30-50% of women and 15-30% of men will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime. It causes 2.3 million fractures anually in Europe and USA alone.

200 million approx.
Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a group of severe mental disorders characterized by disturbances of language and communication; thought disturbances that may involve distortion of reality, misperceptions, delusions and hallucinations; mood changes and withdrawn, regressive, or bizarre behavior. 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia are in developing countries.

People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don't hear or they may believe that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These experiences are terrifying and can cause fearfulness, withdrawal, or extreme agitation. People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk, may sit for hours without moving or talking much, or may seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.

25 million
1The number of people alive who have received a diagnosis of cancer in the last five years
2The statistic reflects adult population only. The total no. of overweight adults is 1.6 billion
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
Cancer Research UK
Roche
International Osteoporosis Foundation
Healthy Bones, Australia
China's Official Gateway to News & Information
Arthritis Foundation
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Institute of Mental Health
Epilepsy Foundation
National Institute on Aging
National Institute of Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Kidney Foundation
World Kidney Day

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"Force always attracts men of low morality."

[Albert Einstein]