Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – A new World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that close to seven million deaths could be prevented by 2030, if low and lower-middle income countries were to make an additional investment of less than a dollar per person per year in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs which include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory disease currently cause seven out of every ten deaths around the world.
Yet their impact on lower income countries is often underestimated, despite the fact that 85 percent of premature deaths (between ages 30-69) from NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries, making them a huge health and socioeconomic burden.
The vast majority of those deaths can be prevented using WHO’s tried and tested NCD ‘Best Buy’ interventions.
These include cost effective measures to reduce tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, improve diets, increase physical activity, reduce risks from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and prevent cervical cancer.
Keeping people healthy reduces health costs, increases productivity and leads to longer and healthier lives.
The report explains the NCD Best Buys and shows how every dollar invested in scaling up Best Buy actions in these countries could generate a return of up to 230 billion U.S. dollars by 2030.
The report emphasizes the urgency of investing in NCD prevention and management given that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how many of these diseases can worsen outcomes for COVID-19.
By investing in the 16 recommended Best Buy policies, countries will not only protect people from NCDs, but also reduce the impact of infectious diseases like COVID-19 in the future.
Best Buy actions include increasing health taxes, restrictions on marketing and sales of harmful products, information and education, and vaccination. They also include actions connected to managing metabolic risk factors, such as hypertension and diabetes, in order to prevent more severe disease or complications.
The interventions are all relatively inexpensive and require little capital investment, but could help avoid much of the high cost of treatment in future.
The report also indicates that while each of the interventions can be implemented individually, the effects are stronger and produce a greater return on investment when introduced together.
Reporting by Indonesia Window