The report, Chronic disease: an economic perspective, synthesises extensive evidence from across the world and sends out two main messages: first, chronic diseases should be far more prominent on the international development agenda of donors and international organisations, and, second, from an economic perspective, governments need to act to prevent chronic diseases.
The economic relevance of chronic diseases has long been ignored, not least because they were deemed to be a problem affecting mostly the elderly and the wealthy. However, today’s report offers evidence to show that not only are chronic diseases affecting the poor in developed as well as developing economies, but that they are also taking a heavy toll on working age adults across the globe. In low- and middle-income countries, chronic diseases currently account for about 40% of deaths and 80% of the disease impact for those aged below 60. The report also takes cost of illness studies into account and looks at the economic impact at every level down to households and individuals.
According to economic reports, chronic diseases can exact a toll of up to 6.8% of a country’s GDP. In many countries in the developed world, heart disease alone can account for between 1% and 3% of GDP. In developing countries, where there is less evidence, the economic losses also appear to be significant. In China, for example, tobacco consumption and obesity in 1995 imposed costs of 1.5% and 2.1% of GDP, respectively.
Rachel Nugent, director of health and economics at the Population Reference Bureau, Washington DC, and a co-author of the report, stresses: “Given the economic evidence, the role of chronic diseases as both a marker of poverty and as a potential determinant of economic outcomes is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Chronic diseases are predicted to become the most common causes of death by 2015 in both the developed and developing world. Despite this, the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve the economies of the world’s poorest countries, have failed to include them in their list of health priorities.”
Along with demonstrating the significance of chronic diseases in economic terms, the OxHA report also discusses the economic rationale for why government is justified to interfere in what many might consider to be the exclusively private sphere of the individual, that is, how people decide to lead their lives, such as in the case of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and diet.
As Marc Suhrcke, an economist with the World Health Organization and another author of the report, says: “Personal choice is a great principle that we as economists whole-heartedly support – as long as a few conditions are met (e.g. these actions do no harm to other, people are well-informed, they act rationally, etc.) When these conditions are not met – which is what is happening in a number of chronic disease-relevant areas – then there is a justification for government to step in to improve on the market's failure. This is solely a question of efficiency and has nothing whatsoever to do with the ideologically driven call for the ‘nanny state’.”
The report also points out that there are many cost-effective interventions available to address the chronic disease burden, with particular focus on developing countries.
Dr Derek Yach, Director of Global Health at the Rockefeller Foundation and a member of the Oxford Health Alliance Board, concludes, “This report should be a wake up call to governments, economists and philanthropists alike to move chronic diseases up their agenda, if not simply for public health reasons, then because of the negative impact they could have on the economy if unchecked. This is never to downplay the huge importance of communicable, child and maternal health conditions (such as HIV/AIDS or under-nutrition), but it is to make the point that we cannot continue to ignore chronic disease as a global health priority.”
Members of the Oxford Health Alliance’s network will meet in Cape Town next week (20-22 November) to formulate strategies for confronting the fast-growing epidemic of chronic disease. To view or listen to the conference live or on demand, visit www.3four50.com.
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering
21.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering