The World Bank said that Cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, chronic illnesses in wealthy nations, will be the leading causes of death in poor countries by 2015.
These diseases will replace the present major killers which include malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.
In its report the Bank emphasized the need for the government the counties to recognize the impending burden such a situation would impose on the nation and economy. The countries need to take up preventive measures in order to curb the diseases. It has to prevent non communicable diseases to the greatest extent possible, and in doing so, promote healthy aging to avoid premature death. The Government also has a role to play in dealing with the pressures that this will impose of health care services. Allocations must be made in the budget for better health care system and preventive medicines.
Joy Phumaphi, vice president of the World Bank's development network and a former health minister in Botswana underlining the facts of the report said "Public Policy and the Challenge of Chronic No communicable Diseases" predicts rising life expectancy for all age groups, lower fertility rates and better control of infectious diseases. It says changing lifestyles with more cigarette smoking, bad diets and lack of exercise mean that poor countries face a future when common diseases become major problems."
"Many studies tend to underestimate the real cost of no communicable diseases to individual people and their families, which can cause a household to slip below the poverty line," She said many families in developing countries tap into savings or sell their possessions to cover the costs of caring for an ill family member and lost wages.
"Another way families cope is to have women and children care for their sick relatives, which can mean children have to leave school during a health crisis to care for a sick relative, earn extra money or use money to cover medical costs that had been put aside for their educations," she said.
In Indonesia, for example, private health care spending is projected to more than double by 2020, compared to 2005, as its elderly population grows in size and needs treatment for chronic diseases.
The low and medium income countries have a number of options to help them promote healthy living. Curbing tobacco use, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure outside the clinical setting are some of the options. Setting high cigarette taxes is one of the effective ways to cut back on smoking. It will not only reduce cancer and heart diseases but also increase revenue for the government. It will also discourage new smokers.
The report advocated banning of advertising, providing health care information and forbidding smoking in public places as cost-effective methods in relatively low income countries.