Premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases can be reduced by spending US$ 13 per patient annually
Nearly 16 million people die prematurely, before the age of 70, every year due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), even though an investment of just US $ 13 per person per year can save their lives. Urgent government action is needed to meet global targets to reduce the burden of NCDs that range from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
The report states that of the 38 million lives lost to NCDs in 2012, 16 million (42 per cent) were premature and avoidable – up from 14.6 million in 2000. The report provides the most current estimates on NCD mortality (2012) and risk factors in 194 countries.
“In 2015, every country needs to set national targets and implement cost-effective actions. If they do not, millions of lives will continue to be lost too soon,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who on Monday launched the Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2014.
Recommended actions for governments
Nearly five years into the global effort to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025, the report gives recommendations about actions by governments. Premature NCD deaths can be significantly reduced through government policies which reduce tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, and delivering universal health care. Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths (28 million), and 82 per cent of the 16 million premature deaths, occur in low- and middle-income countries.
WHO’s nine voluntary global targets are enshrined in the Global action plan for NCDs 2013-2020 (see ‘Nine NCD targets’).
High impact interventions
The report released on Monday provides examples of most cost-effective and high-impact interventions by various nations.
The report notes that most of the countries are off the course to meet the 2025 targets. While 167 countries have operational NCD units in the ministry of health, progress on other indicators has been slow, especially in low- and middle-income countries (see ‘Progress report of countries’).
Economic burden of NCDs
From 2011-2025, cumulative economic losses due to NCDs without any intervention in low- and middle-income countries is estimated at US$ 7 trillion. WHO estimates the cost of reducing the global NCD burden is US$ 11.2 billion a year, an annual investment of US$ 1-3 per capita.
The first UN General Assembly high-level meeting on NCDs took place in 2011 and resulted in the adoption of a political declaration that put the prevention and control of NCDs high on the development agenda. The second high-level meeting took place in 2014, when countries committed to setting national NCD targets in 2015. In 2018, the UN General Assembly will convene a third high-level meeting to take stock of progress of countries in attaining the voluntary global targets by 2025.
Progress report of countries
Progress report on targets for 2025 as of December 2013:
Nine global NCD targets
A 25 per cent relative reduction in risk of premature mortality from CVDs, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases
At least 10 per cent relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol, as appropriate, within the national context
A 10 per cent relative reduction in prevalence of insufficient physical activity
A 30 per cent relative reduction in mean population intake of salt/sodium
A 30 per cent relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years
A 25 per cent relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure or contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure, according to national circumstances
Halt the rise in diabetes and obesity
At least 50 per cent of eligible people receive drug therapy and counselling (including glycaemic control) to prevent heart attacks and strokes
An 80 per cent availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major NCDs in both public and private facilities
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