GENEVA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- More than eight million lives could be saved by 2030 if the world's poorest countries can scale up investments, by an additional 1.27 U.S. dollars per person annually, in preventing and treating chronic diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
In its latest report, titled Saving Lives, Spending Less: A Strategic Response to NCDs (noncommunicable diseases), the WHO showed that for every one dollar invested in scaling up actions to address NCDs in low- and lower-middle-income countries, there will be a return to society of at least seven dollars in increased employment, productivity and longer life.
The report indicated that taking effective measures to prevent and control NCDs costs just an additional 1.27 dollars per person per year in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The health gains from this investment will, in turn, generate 350 billion dollars through averted health costs and increased productivity by 2030, and save 8.2 million lives during the same period.
To protect people from NCDs, the world's leading causes of ill health and death, the WHO suggests increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol, reducing salt intake through the reformulation of food products, administering drug therapy and counselling for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, vaccinating girls aged 9 to 13 years against human papillomavirus and screening women aged 30 to 49 years for cervical cancer.
According to WHO statistics, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, comprising 72 percent of all deaths globally. The low- and lower-middle-income countries currently bear the brunt of premature deaths from NCDs, which includes almost half of the 15 million people who die globally every year between the age of 30 and 70. Yet global financing for NCDs is severely limited, receiving less than two percent of all health funding.
NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and mental disorders, which tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviors factors. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a NCD. The WHO also recognizes that air pollution is a critical risk factor for NCDs.
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.