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Michael R. Bloomberg

Small Steps Can Save Millions of Lives

More people now die from noncommunicable diseases than from causes like malaria and polio. Policy makers need to catch up.
Celebrating World No-Tobacco Day in China.

Celebrating World No-Tobacco Day in China.

Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The following is an adaptation of an annual letter about philanthropy.

For the first time in human history, more people around the world are dying from noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, than communicable ones, such as malaria and polio. This change occurred in higher-income countries at some point in the middle of the last century. In lower-income countries, the shift is just a few years old.