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Friday, September 6, 2013

Lifestyle diseases to cost India $6tn: Study Will Reduce Productivity, Lead To Early Retirement


New Delhi: India's march towards being an economically stable nation is threatened not just by global financial issues. Poor health indicators pose an equally big threat. 
    The Harvard School of Public Health has, in a study on economic losses due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), estimated that the economic burden of these ailments for India will be close to $6.2 trillion for the period 2012-30, a figure that is equivalent to nearly nine times the total health expenditure during the previous 19 years of $710 billion. 
    NCDs, chiefly cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, are defined as diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They are the major cause of adult mortality and illness worldwide. 

    The Harvard report, which is based on WHO projections of the mortality trajectory associated with NCDs, says ischemic heart disease is going to be the single most costly non-communicable dis
ease in India (causing an output loss of about $1.21 trillion over 2012-30), followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 
    China, the report adds, is estimated to face output losses of $27.8 trillion for 2012-30 – which is more than 12 times the total health expenditure during the previous 19 years of $2.2 trillion. "The economic impact of NCDs is estimated higher in China than in India mainly because of China's higher income and older population," said David E Bloom, the lead researcher. 
    According to Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, NCDs can impact the economy in multiple ways. "Most of the non-communicable diseases, for example diabetes or heart disease, affect the per
son in the productive years. They cause reduced productivity and early retirement. Also, they put immense pressure on public health expenditure as in most cases the treatment costs are higher compared to communicable diseases," he said. Reddy added that the increasing burden of NCDs could rob India of the 'demographic dividend' it is projected to reap on account of a predominantly young population. A recent report published by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT states that by 2020, India is set to become the world's youngest country with 64% of its population in the working age group. 
    The WHO has suggested 'best buy' interventions (policy measures) for reducing NCDs that include increasing tax on tobacco products and alcohol and ban on their advertising. It also proposes interventions, such as reduced salt intake in food, counselling and multi-drug therapy for people with a high risk of developing heart attacks and strokes, and hepatitis B immunization to prevent liver cancer. 
    "The implementation of these 'best buy' interventions for reducing NCDs in low-andmiddle income countries (LMICs) could lead to a 10-15 percent reduction in premature death from NCDs (and in their economic costs)," the Harvard researchers have pointed out.



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