The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that at least 80 per cent of all heart disease, stroke and diabetes cases are preventable. Some of the ways that chronic diseases can be reduced include individual health screening and national initiatives relating to tobacco and alcohol. Ireland has led the way in terms of tobacco measures; becoming the first country in the world to introduce smoke free workplaces in 2004. The compelling evidence is that many chronic diseases share common causes – a set of behavioural risk factors, biomedical factors and social determinants that increase the likelihood of developing chronic diseases. The scope of action and range of preventive interventions is broad. Prevention can be targeted at individuals, at communities and at whole populations.
UCD School of Nursing Midwifery and Health Systems (SNMHS) has the view that health care professionals, especially our students who embark on postgraduate programmes of study with us, play a key role in the prevention and management of chronic disease among high-risk individuals. Many chronic diseases wield their most enduring impact through reducing quality of life, functional abilities and lost opportunities for many people.
Another certainty is that older people have more complex chronic illnesses and where the right levels of support are in place, we can improve the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions. Chronic disease will become the dominant global public health issue, and UCD SNMHS is well placed to lead on education, scholarship and clinical in the context of chronic disease prevention and management.