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The Atlantic: Global Chronic Disease: It's Not All About the Money for Once

Authors: Amanda Glassman, Director of Global Health Policy and Research Fellow, Center for Global Development, and Denizhan Duran
September 13, 2011

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Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development, discusses the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), strategies to reduce NDC occurence, and the failure to implement such interventions.

On September 20, heads of state and officials from every country in the world will meet at the United Nations to discuss the non-communicable diseases (NCD) -- heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and asthma -- that are responsible for 63 percent of global deaths annually. Contrary to popular belief, NCD do not primarily affect those of us living in wealthy countries; rather, 80 percent of NCD deaths occur in developing countries, mostly the middle-income countries.

Economic losses in the middle-incomes are likely to be significant. In 2005, China lost 0.31 percent of its GDP to NCD, India lost 0.35 percent and Russia lost 1.13 percent, according to the WHO. These numbers are expected to double or triple by 2015, when Russia is expected to lose up to 5.34 percent of its GDP. Each 10 percent increase in NCD burden is associated with a 0.5 percent reduction in annual economic growth. The opportunity costs of ignoring NCD are high: the World Bank finds that reducing cardiovascular disease mortality by one†percent†per year between 2010 and 2040 would generate a 68†percent†increase in China's real GDP.

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