World Bank: Non-communicable diseases a growing threat to Gulf countries’ economies

NCDs account for nearly 75% of all deaths and disabilities in region
World Bank: Non-communicable diseases a growing threat to Gulf countries’ economies

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose an increasing risk to public health and economic performance in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, accounting for nearly 75 percent of all deaths and disabilities in the region, the World Bank announced.

The World Bank has released its new Gulf Economic Update (GEU) on the Gulf Region, titled “The Health and Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in the GCC,” predicting that these countries’ economies will grow by 2.5 percent in 2023 and 3.2 percent in 2024.

The report also highlighted the significant cost of NCDs to these economies.

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According to the report, a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Economics, resulting from a collaborative effort between experts at the World Bank and key stakeholders from across the GCC, estimated the direct medical costs of seven major NCDs at $16.7 billion in 2019 alone.

This same study found that non-communicable diseases also impose significant indirect costs on the economies of these countries, through negative impact on human capital.

The cost of losses in labor force productivity alone in GCC economies was over $80 billion in 2019.

As populations age, and NCDs spread, these costs are expected to increase in the future.

Tackling the health and economic burdens of non-communicable diseases in the region requires addressing the underlying risk factors that primarily cause NCDs.

The World Bank said several GCC countries had already taken strong steps to address the aforementioned risk factors.

Issam Abousleiman, World Bank Regional Director for the GCC said, “There is an opportunity to do much more to minimize NCDs and their costs in the future.”

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