er places, namely China, where Parkinson’s may not be viewed as a major public health problem," said Dorsey. "Moreover, this growth will occur in societies where there is very limited infrastructure in place to diagnose individuals, much less address their medical needs or the societal impact."
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impairs motor skills and walking. Despite the fact that the disease is treatable with a combination of medications, therapy and exercise, many individuals in the developing world do not receive appropriate care and may not even be aware of their diagnosis.
Dorsey and his colleagues noted that in door-to-door surveys in Bolivia, for example, none of the individuals who were found to have Parkinson’s disease had ever seen a physician for their problem.
The growth in chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s is one of the unfortunate byproducts of development. Economic growth and the corresponding improvements in health care and education are increasing the life expectancy of individuals in the developing world.
In terms of the rise in chronic diseases, the key factor is not overall population growth but rather the number of people over age 65 and thus at risk of developing Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions.
Furthermore, as income grows, so too does health care spending which, in turn, increases the duration of illness and the overall number of people with a particular disease.
Without the proper systems of medical treatment and social support, chronic diseases can cause significant economic displacement in the form of lost productivity. According to the World Health Organization, China, India, and Russia could forego between $200 billion and $550 billion in national income over the next 10 years as a result of only three chronic diseases: heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
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