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 non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
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 USD 7 – potentially USD 230 billion by 2030.
The report also 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.
In a statement made available to newsmen signed by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that 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% of premature deaths (between ages 30-69) from NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries, making them a huge health and socioeconomic burden.”
According to him, “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.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus observed that keeping people healthy reduces health costs, increases productivity, and leads to longer and healthier lives.
“Saving lives, spending less: the case for investing in noncommunicable diseases, focuses on 76 low- and lower-middle-income countries.”
“With the right strategic investments, countries that bear a significant amount of the NCD burden can change their disease trajectory and deliver significant health and economic gains for their citizens,” says Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.
“In a world filled with uncertainty, one thing we can be certain of is that without action, NCDs will continue to be a significant threat to global health. Investing in these evidence-based policies is an investment in a healthy future.”
“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.”
On his part, the WHO Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries Michael R. Bloomberg agreed that Non-communicable diseases take terrible health and economic toll, especially on countries that can least afford it.
“We know the prevention measures that work best, and hopefully this new report leads more governments to take the smart, cost-effective actions that can help save millions of lives around the world.”
“Best Buy’s actions include increasing health taxes, restrictions on marketing and sales of harmful products, information and education, and vaccination.”