Non communicable diseases (NCD) are slowly-progressing diseases that are not transmitted from person to person. The examples of the diseases include heart attacks, cancers, asthma and diabetes.
Unhealthy diets, tobacco, alcohol, and reduced physical activity are some of the factors that contribute to NCDs. One unexpected risk associated with NCD is indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with dirty biomass fuels and coal.
Two billion people or more in developing countries, mostly women and girls, are exposed to indoor air pollution due to lack of access to modern energy carriers, resulting in over 1.5 million excess deaths each year (World Summit on Sustainable Development Report, p. 8).
Solar cookers, while often praised for effectively reducing carbon footprints, have also been effective in addressing this problem. Because they use the heat from the sun, rather than burning woods, they do not produce smoke, and therefore make cooking safer for many African and Asian households. Pictured below, an African family uses a parabolic solar cooker outside instead of the traditional ovens that fill huts with smoke.
Unsurprisingly, NCDs are more common in developing countries; the lack of access to primary health care and proliferation of fast foods make developing countries increasingly more susceptible to NCDs. American fast food giants such as Macdonald’s aggressively market themselves in the developing countries, and portray their products as convenient, cheap, delicious, and stylish alternatives to the local, traditional, and often more nutritious foods. The marketing efforts by these companies contribute to increase in obesity and malnutrition, which then raise the risk of NCDs.