More and more people around the world are suffering from heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes and mental health woes. Now a new study from the World Economic Forum puts a price tag on the burden of these non-communicable diseases.
The study – called The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases – found these five common, chronic diseases will cost the world $47 trillion by 2030. Mental health illnesses alone will account for $16 trillion in costs and lost wages. The findings were released before a United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases.
“Until now, we’ve been unable to put a figure on what the World Health Organization calls the ‘world’s biggest killers’,” Olivier Raynaud, the WEF’s senior director of health, said in a written statement. “The numbers indicate that non-communicable diseases have the potential to not only bankrupt health systems but to also put a brake on the global economy.”
Non-communicable diseases – diseases that aren’t infectious – kill 36 million people per year. Low and middle-income countries have it worst – 80 percent of non-communicable disease deaths occur in poorer countries, prematurely killing working age people. The study found that heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes will cost low- and middle-income countries are estimated $500 billion per year.
But there’s a silver lining. The World Health Organization (WHO) says these diseases can be prevented and treated for as little as $1.20 per person.
“Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, killing ever more people each year,” Dr. Ala Alwan, assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health at the WHO, said in a written statement. “This study proves that there are affordable steps all governments can take to address non-communicable diseases.”
The organization outlined several tactics for preventing chronic disease. There are measures that target the population, such as alcohol and tobacco taxes, smoke-free environments, public health initiatives, and campaigns to reduce salt and trans fat consumption. On an individual level, tactics focus on disease screening, counseling, immunizations – like the HPV and Hep-B vaccines that prevent cervical, liver cancer – and drug therapy. The organization said countries that have already taken these steps have seen a “marked reduction” in disease incidence and deaths.
“Think of what could be achieved if these resources were productively invested in an area like education,” Professor Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said in a written statement. “The need for immediate action is critical to the future of the global economy.”
Click here to read the World Economic Forum’s report.
Reported by Ryan Jaslow