The Jakarta Post
Wide-scale implementation of 'best buy' intervention strategies would help limit the macro-economic costs of treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
'We are seeing that heart diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases now affect younger and younger people. Deaths from NCDs occur in the age group of 30 to 70 years in our region and are considered premature,' WHO South-East Asia regional director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday.
She further said the diseases disproportionately affected the poor, robbing families of breadwinners and pushing them into a vicious cycle of poverty.
'The millions of productive individuals lost prematurely to NCDs are seriously undermining social and economic development,' said Singh.
In the WHO's South-East Asia region, the diseases kill 8.5 million people annually, 4.2 million of which are considered premature. The region's poor are most vulnerable to the negative economic impacts of NCDs.
The macro-economic burden of NCDs in low-and middle-income countries has been projected to amount to US$7 trillion from 2011 to 2025.
Eliminating the most common NCD risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, can prevent 80 percent of heart diseases, stroke and type-2 diabetes and 30 percent of all cancers.
The WHO emphasizes the importance of implementing evidence-based and cost-effective interventions -- best buys -- to control NCDs and help achieve its member states' goal of reducing premature deaths from the diseases by 25 percent by 2015, as adopted at the 65th World Health Assembly in 2012.
While NCDs cost lower- and middle-income countries nearly $500 billion annually, the total cost for implementing all of the best buys to address the diseases amount only $11.4 billion, with the added benefit of saving millions of lives.
'Some examples of best buy interventions for NCD prevention and control include raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, reducing salt consumption, eliminating trans-fat in the food supply chain, promoting physical activity and detecting and treating NCDs at an early stage,' said Singh, who added that the wide-scale implementation of best buys required coordinated action involving all stakeholders. (ebf)
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