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WHO, WEF Reports Examine Cost Of Treating And Preventing, Economic Burden Of NCDs

Low-income countries “could introduce measures to prevent and treat millions of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease for a little as $1.20 per person per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday” in a report released on the eve of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place this week in New York, Reuters reports (Kelland, 9/19).

“The package — which includes tobacco control, reduction of salt and fat in processed food, basic generic drugs for heart patients, screening for cervical cancer, and a few other measures — would cost less than $1 a year per person in the poorest countries and about $3 per person in richer ones. For the world’s 144 low- and middle-income nations, the investment would be at least $11.4 billion,” the Washington Post writes (Brown, 9/18). The low-cost interventions include “measures that target the population as a whole, such as excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, … along with public awareness programs about diet and physical activity,” as well as tactics focused on individual behavior such as “screening, counseling and drug therapy for people with or at high risk of cardiovascular disease,” according to a WHO press release (9/18).

“The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases — cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease — could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF)” and the Harvard School of Public Health that also was released on Sunday, Reuters reports. The study “found the cumulative costs of heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes in … poorer countries are expected to top $7 trillion in 2011-2025, an average of nearly $500 billion a year. Mental health, which is typically left off lists of leading NCDs, will account for $16 trillion — a third of the overall $47 trillion anticipated costs,” the news agency writes (Kelland, 9/18).