Pierre Assouad and Jad Bitar
NCDs ‘to cost GCC $36bn in 2013’
Dubai, December 5, 2013
The total direct and indirect cost of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for the GCC will be close to $36 billion in 2013 – one and a half times official healthcare spending, a report said.
The economic development of the GCC countries has brought with it a significant cost – a rising incidence of NCDs, added the report from Booz & Company, a global consulting firm.
“The result is that NCDs have become the leading causes of death and disability, thus making the GCC one of the region’s worst affected by the global increase in chronic diseases,” said Gabriel Chahine, a partner with Booz & Company.
“This trend is projected to result in NCDs causing over three-quarters of all deaths globally by 2030, up from 63 per cent in 2008, with significant cost implications for healthcare systems.”
The economic burden of NCDs comes in two cost forms, direct and indirect, said Jad Bitar, a Partner with Booz & Company.
“Direct costs are typically those associated with the treatment of patients, such as consultations, medications, and clinical operations,” added Bitar.
“More significant is the indirect economic penalty that NCDs impose. From a national perspective, NCDs reduce life expectancy, which means less output. In addition to the immense burden on the patients, NCDs also affect the patients’ families, causing them to contribute less to economic activity. Chronic illness and shorter life spans deplete the quality and quantity of the work force.”
“We calculated that the total direct and indirect cost for the five selected NCDs in 2013 will be around $36 billion for the GCC, rising to around $68 billion by 2022,” stated Chahine.
“The burden is greater, and clearly less sustainable, when the total cost of NCDs is compared to healthcare spending. In 2013, the five top NCDs in the GCC will impose an economic penalty equivalent to close to one and a half times all six of the governments’ healthcare budgets.”
The economic burden per capita for the different GCC countries in 2013 will range from $516 in Saudi Arabia, or 3.6 per cent of non-oil GDP per capita, to $2,001 in Qatar, equivalent to 4.1 per cent of non-oil GDP per capita. By 2022, the total cost per capita will reach $758 in Saudi Arabia and $2,778 in Qatar. The lowest economic burden will be in Oman, which, in 2022, will have a NCD per capita cost of $603. In comparison, in 2011 OECD economies spent $3,327 per capita on healthcare.
Tackling the issue
To tackle the crippling financial and human costs of NCDs, GCC governments and other stakeholders need to identify and understand the underlying risk factors associated with these illnesses.
“There are two kinds of primary NCD risk factors that are root causes of these illnesses: non-modifiable and modifiable, said Pierre Assouad, senior associate with Booz & Company.
“In terms of policy responses, modifiable risk factors are the most amenable to change and have the highest impact on individuals. Non-modifiable risk factors lie outside the control of the individual and are linked to age, hereditary/genetic conditions and other socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental determinants.”
Governments, through appropriate regulations and policies, can improve some non-modifiable risk factors, such as environmental influences, including toxicity levels of products and air quality. Modifiable risk factors are behavioral in nature and include tobacco use, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. – TradeArabia News Service