The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today failure to continue taking prescribed medicine for chronic diseases is a problem of striking magnitude globally regardless of the type of disease, particularly in cases where patients are required to self-administer their treatment. “Poor adherence is the primary reason for not achieving the full health benefits medicines can provide to patients. It causes medical and psychosocial complications of disease, reduces patients’ quality of life, increases the likelihood of development of drug resistance and wastes health care resources,” WHO Executive Director for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health Derek Yach said. A newly published WHO report entitled, “Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action,” says in developed countries, adherence among patients suffering from chronic diseases averages only 50 per cent, and it is even lower in developing countries. The study reviews a variety of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, asthma, high blood pressure, mental problems, cancer and diabetes. Intended for policy-makers, health managers, and clinical practitioners, the report provides a concise summary of the consequences of poor adherence for health and economics. It also discusses the options available for improving adherence, and demonstrates the potential impact on desired health outcomes and health care budgets. Compliance with regimens will avoid excess costs to already stretched health systems and will improve the lives of people with chronic diseases, WHO said. It reduces the need for more costly interventions, such as frequent and longer hospitalizations, unnecessary use of emergency rooms and highly expensive intensive care services.