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As Communicable disease kills over 4 million people annually…

WHO urged for investment

May 17, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The World Health Organization (WHO) has in a news release urged the world to invest in non-communicable disease (NCDs) as it kills 41 million people each year, comprising 72% of global deaths.

According to the release, a new report launched by the world’s leading health organisations, the world’s poorest countries could gain US$350 billion by 2030 by scaling up investments in preventing and treating chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer that cost an additional US$1.27 per person annually.

The organisation noted that such actions would save more than 8 million lives over the same period.

“The report, titled ‘saving lives, spending less: a strategic response to NCDs,’ reveals for the first time the financing needs and returns on investment of WHO’s cost-effective and feasible “best buy” policies to protect people from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the world’s leading causes of ill health and death.”

The release, quoting the report, stated that for every US$1 invested in scaling up actions to address NCDs in low and lower-middle-income countries (LLMICs), there will be a return to society of at least US$7 in increased employment, productivity and longer life.

“The overarching message of this powerful new WHO report is optimistic,” says WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Tackling NCDs is an opportunity to improve health and economies.”

According to the WHO release, if all countries use these interventions, the world would move significantly closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030, adding that among the most cost-effective “best buy” interventions are increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol, reducing salt intake through the reformulation of food products, administering drug therapy and counseling for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, vaccinating girls aged 9─13 years against human papillomavirus and screening women aged 30─49 years for cervical cancer.

“NCDs impose huge economic costs that fall heaviest on the low- and middle-income countries that can least afford them. This report makes the case for bold action against NCDs from a business perspective, and it outlines some of the most effective ways to reduce their toll, which can help to direct more resources to where they are needed most,” says WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg.

The report further said LLMICs currently bear the brunt of premature deaths from NCDs: almost half (7.2 million) of the 15 million people who die globally every year between the age of 30 and 70 are from the world’s poorest countries.

The report maintained that global financing for NCDs is severely limited, receiving less than 2% of all health funding.

According to the report, taking effective measures to prevent and control NCDs cost just an additional US$ 1.27 per person per year in LLMICs, adding that the health gains from this investment will, in turn, generate US$350 billion through averted health costs and increased productivity by 2030, and save 8.2 million lives during the same period.

“For every US$1 invested in each policy area, the following returns have been documented, US$12.82 from promoting healthy diets, US$9.13 from reducing the harmful use of alcohol,US$7.43 from lower tobacco use,US$3.29 from providing drug therapy for cardiovascular disease,US$2.80 from increasing physical activity,US$2.74”

The report further said the number of deaths from NCDs is increasing across the world, including in LLMICs, as typically long-term conditions, adding that NCDs are especially detrimental to families in low-resource settings as lengthy and expensive treatment drains household resources, forces families into poverty and stifles development.

The report, however, called for donors to support governments by offering funding as a catalyst for ambitiously scaling up the “best buy” policies which would save millions of lives.

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