World Health Organization – Noncommunicable diseases – or NCDs – like heart attacks and strokes, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease account for over 63% of deaths in the world today. Every year, NCDs kill 9 million people under 60.
The WHO’s list of recommendations includes measures that target whole populations, such as excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, legislating for smoke-free indoor workplaces and public places, as well as campaigns to reduce levels of salt and trans fats in foods, and public awareness programs about improving diets and increasing physical activity.
Other steps include screening, counseling and drugs for people at risk of heart disease, cervical cancer screening and hepatitis B immunization to prevent liver cancer.
Implementing them would save literally millions of lives over the next 15 year.
The tool has been used to produce a ‘price tag’ for a combined set of population-based and individual level ‘best buy’ NCD interventions that have been identifi ed as priority actions by WHO. The average yearly cost for all low- and middle-income countries is estimated to be US$ 11.4 billion (an overall cost of US$ 170 billion over the period 2011-2025).
The cost per head of population is low. It represents an annual investment of under US$ 1 in lowincome countries, US$ 1.50 in lower middle-income countries; and US$ 3 in upper middle-income countries. Expressed as a proportion of current health spending, the cost of implementing such a package amounts to 4% in low-income countries, 2% in lower middle-income countries and less than 1% in upper middle-income countries.
Population-based best buy interventions address tobacco and harmful alcohol use, as well as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity in low- and middle-income countries. The cost for these approaches US$ 2 billion yearly. In low-income and lower middle-income countries, the median cost per head of population amounts to less than US$ 0.20 per year, while for upper-middle income countries the median value is close to US$ 0.50. These amounts represent less than 1% of total per capita spending on health.
Individual-based best buy interventions are delivered in primary health care settings and include, for example, counselling and drug therapy for persons with or at high risk of cardiovascular disease, plus measures to prevent cervical cancer. For these interventions the cost averages more than US$ 10 billion yearly. Over the scale-up period 2011-2025, the annual cost per head of population falls below US$ 1 in low-income countries, less than US$ 1.50 in lower-middle income countries and averages US$ 2.50 in upper-middle income countries