“These Strategies Can Prevent 7m Deaths” – WHO

A recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that about seven million deaths could be prevented by 2030, if low and lower-middle income countries were to make an additional investment of less than a dollar per person per year in the prevention and treatment of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

This was contained in a statement signed by the Organisation’s Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, December 13, 2021.

TheFact Nigeria recalled that WHO country representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo had called on the Nigerian government to prioritize investment in health prevention, following the shocking revelation that 1 in 3 people die from NCDs in the country.

Non-communicable diseases are diseases that are not transmissible directly from one person to another. Examples include Osteoarthritis, most Cancers, Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, Strokes, some heart diseases, Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Cataracts, among others.

According to WHO, the impact of NCDs on lower income countries are often underestimated, despite the fact that they account for 85% of premature deaths (between ages 30-69) thus making them a huge health and socioeconomic burden.

It maintained that vast majority of those deaths could be prevented using WHO’s tried and tested NCD ‘Best Buy’ interventions which included cost effective measures to reduce tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, improve diets, increase physical activity, reduce risks from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and prevent cervical cancer.

WHO’s report explained the NCD Best Buys and showed how every dollar invested in scaling up Best Buy actions in low income countries could generate a return of up to USD 7 – potentially USD 230 billion by 2030.

Speaking on the need to take proactive steps with regards investing in the health sector, the WHO Boss explicated:

“With the right strategic investments, countries that bear a significant amount of the NCD burden can change their disease trajectory and deliver significant health and economic gains for their citizens.

“In a world filled with uncertainty, one thing we can be certain of is that without action, NCDs will continue to be a significant threat to global health. Investing in these evidence-based policies is an investment in a healthy future”, he said.

The statement further disclosed that by investing in the 16 recommended Best Buy policies, countries will not only protect people from NCDs, but also reduce the impact of infectious diseases like COVID-19 in the future.

It highlighted the Best Buy actions include to include: increasing health taxes, restrictions on marketing and sales of harmful products, information and education, and vaccination.

They also include actions connected to managing metabolic risk factors, such as hypertension and diabetes, in order to prevent more severe disease or complications.

Also lending a voice to the call to save lives, WHO Director for NCDs, Dr. Bente Mikkelsen posited that the Organisation’s new strategy will doubtlessly save many:

“Saving lives, spending less: the case for investing in noncommunicable diseases sets out a path on which countries can follow to deliver the next generation a better and healthier world.

“The impact of COVID-19 on people living with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and lung diseases shows that it’s more important than ever to prioritize the investment of prevention and management of NCDs.

“We call on all our partners to follow examples like Norway, who have stepped up funding and action. In a world where financial resources are increasingly constrained, this report shows where the best investments can be made and where millions of lives can be saved”, Mikkelsen explained.

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