Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are among the world’s deadliest killers. These and other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill nearly 40 million people every year, making NCDs the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. And beyond the obvious human toll, NCDs are also putting an enormous strain on healthcare systems around the world. So it’s not surprising that leading health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NCD Alliance, are making the prevention and control of NCDs a priority.
What about psoriasis?
The WHO officially declared psoriasis an NCD in 2014 – and while not life-threatening itself, psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of several NCDs, including some of the deadly diseases mentioned above. While these links are still not widely understood, they make psoriasis a particularly complex NCD, and one that deserves more attention from the global health community.
Raising awareness of the impact of psoriasis is what PsoHappy is all about. We believe that prioritising the prevention and control of psoriasis can have a significant impact on the fight against NCDs. Our research shows that psoriasis is far more than “just” a skin condition – living with psoriasis can also have a profound effect on one’s well-being and quality of life. We published these findings in our 2017 World Psoriasis Happiness Report. Based on more than 120,000 survey responses from more than 180 countries, the Report is already helping to raise the profile of psoriasis as a serious health issue worldwide.
Our World Psoriasis Happiness Index (based on the top 19 countries with 400 or more survey respondents from each country) made the psoriasis data particularly accessible. Most people are already familiar with the idea of comparing happiness levels between nations, so the Index provides a compelling overview of the global impact of psoriasis.
Now, PsoHappy is exploring the links between psoriasis and other non-communicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease and depression. Like our previous research, we are conducting surveys online to capture data from around the world, and screening and categorising respondents by the severity of psoriasis they report. The aim this time is to build a global overview of the connection between psoriasis and related NCDs, so we can better understand how psoriasis fits into the overall impact of NCDs.
Though this research is still underway, preliminary data indicates that having both psoriasis and a related NCD has a much greater impact on well-being and quality of life than having psoriasis alone. As we continue to gather insights, this increased impact should become even clearer – how does having both psoriasis and a related NCD affect people’s happiness, their social lives or sense of self-worth? How does this differ from country to country, or across age groups?
Building a globally comparable overview of the impact of an NCD is a powerful tool for fuelling the international conversation around how to address this impact. By comparing the happiness levels of those living with psoriasis from nation to nation, we can create a common discourse around the condition, making it easier to build awareness and to propel the discussion beyond clinical specialists. The World Psoriasis Happiness Report is the first step in our mission to quantify and compare the impact of NCDs on happiness.
Joining the fight against NCDs
The fight against non-communicable diseases is in full swing. The WHO’s NCD global action plan has targeted cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, with the goal of reducing premature deaths from these NCDs by 25% by the year 2020.
The NCD Alliance is also at the front lines of the battle against NCDs. Their NCD Global Alliance Forum 2017, taking place December 9-11 in Sharjah, UAE, will bring together and mobilise NCD civil society as part of the Alliance’s push to step up the work of preventing and controlling NCDs worldwide.
At PsoHappy, we’re working tirelessly to investigate the complex nature of psoriasis, and boost our understanding of its connection to other diseases. Every survey we receive helps us understand these links better – and that’s good news for everyone fighting NCDs.
If you’d like to contribute to the global fight, just take our latest PsoHappy survey.
Dr. John Zibert is the Chief Medical Officer at LEO Innovation Lab. He holds a B.Sc. in microbiology, M.Sc. in Human biology and a Ph.D. in medicine. John has been carrying out International clinical research on skin diseases and cancers for over a decade, with several publications in high-tier peer-reviewed journals.