24 June, 2021, Lima, Peru – More than 183,000 lives and 35 billion soles (US$ 9 billion) could be saved over the next 15 years by implementing a set of policies to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and salt use, and by scaling up clinical interventions to control cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as increasing accss to treatment for depression, anxiety, and psychotic conditions.
These are the results of a study presented today, entitled "Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders in Peru: The case for investment" (in Spanish). The study was carried out by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Peru and supported by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI).
"The results of the study indicate that there is an evidence-based opportunity to reduce the economic and health burden of noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders through preventive actions, while also ensuring clinical treatment for those most in need," said Dr. Gustavo Rosell, Peru's Deputy Minister of Public Health.
The study shows that for every Peruvian sol invested in the joint implementation of this package of measures, 2.2 soles can be expected in return over a period of 15 years, through avrtd economic productivity losses combined with lower health expenditure in a healthier population. Increased productivity would contribute to economic expansion, generating more than a quarter of a percentage point (0.28%) of GDP growth in 15 years. The return on sets of interventions was also calculated. It was found that for each Peruvian sol invested in policies aimed at reducing salt consumption, 82.6 soles can be expected in return. For other policies, the calculated return was: 18.0 soles for tobacco control policies; 4.2 soles for alcohol control policies; 2.1 for expanded anxiety treatment; 1.3 for depression; 1.2 for cardiovascular diseases; and 1.0 for diabetes.
"The study gives us a roadmap with clear economic and health arguments for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases and the treatment of mental disorders in Peru. These results reaffirm that investing in the prevention and control of NCDs and the treatment of mental disorders is cost-effective and should be seen as a key strategy towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," said Dr. Carlos Garzón, PAHO/WHO representative in Peru.
The report is the second of its kind in the Region of the Americas, following one from Jamaica. It was carried out under the framework of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases with the aim of estimating the cost-effectiveness of multisectoral national strategies for the prevention and control of NCDs and mental disorders in Peru. It analyzed three groups of interventions: 1) policies to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and salt consumption; 2) clinical interventions to control cardiovascular disease and diabetes; and 3) scaled-up treatment of mental disorders, in particular depression, anxiety, and psychotic conditions.
Approximately one person in four in the Region of the Americas is at increased risk of a poor outcome if they become ill with COVID-19 due to underlying NCDs. One of the most concerning aspects of the current pandemic is its disproportionate impact on people suffering from NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as obesity.
"Strengthening the prevention and control of these diseases and the treatment of mental disorders benefits the poorest people as well as the economy, while also promoting equality," said Karin Santi, regional team leader on HIV, Health, and Development at the UNDP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.
It should be noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders as a major challenge for sustainable development. Specifically, target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for a one-third reduction in premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by 2030 through the prevention and treatment of these diseases and the promotion of mental health and well-being.