PH bleeds P756.5B in annual economic losses due to NCDs–report
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines suffers P756.5 billion in economic losses annually due to cases of noncommunicable disease (NCDs), a new report launched Tuesday disclosed.
In the Philippine Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) Investment Case Report, it read that the said amount includes the direct costs of NCDs involving treatment, care and social security.
The economic loss, equivalent to 4.8 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, also includes indirect costs from various factors, such as less productivity and loss of the workforce.
The said report was jointly launched by the Department of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN) Interagency Task Force on NCDs.
Meanwhile, the report also stated that NCDs cause 68 percent of all deaths in the Philippines. It also cited that the probability of Filipinos dying between the ages of 30 to 70 years old is 29 percent.
The four main types of NCDs, according to the WHO, are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases (such as asthma).
The causes of premature deaths of NCDs are tobacco use, abuse in drinking alcohol, having an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
With this, Dr. Francesca Celletti of WHO Philippines said that NCDs are a “major health concern” in the country, and is a “battle we need to win.”
Salt reduction ‘best return on investment’
To combat NCDs, the DOH, WHO and UN body laid down its plan to invest in “Best Buys,” which are considered “cost-effective” interventions targeting tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity and excessive salt consumption.
The salt reduction package was considered to be the “best return” on investment. It is said to cost P5 billion to implement for the next 15 years, but predicted to have a P163.1-billion return due to “increased productivity in the workforce,” the DOH said.
This was based on a 2013 study that Filipinos aged 20 years and older consume 4.29 grams of sodium a day, considered more than twice the WHO recommendation of only two grams.
For the package, it includes policy interventions such as combating misleading marketing, front-of-package labeling on food, and salt reduction in community eating spaces.
The intervention will save 164,251 lives from NCDs during a 15-year period, the DOH said.
But will the intervention be successful given that Filipinos are known to be food lovers?
“This is really something we need to come together to strategize,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters on the sidelines of the report launch in Manila.
“I don’t know if also taxation is the way to go as we’ve seen positive effects of [raising] taxes on sin tax products,” he added. “The same strategy might work also for excessive consumption of salt.”
“We did the same thing on taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, so it might be the most effective way to go.” /jpv
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