A research paper published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology shows that, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - known as BRICS - are losing billions of dollars in productivity due to cancer. India ranks second in such losses.
The emerging economies collectively lost nearly $46.3 billion in 2012 on account of cancer-related deaths that could have been prevented with proper treatment and adequate infrastructure.
India recorded a total productivity loss of $6.7 billion in 2012 due to cancer, representing 0.36% of the GDP. This figure is second only to South Africa which recorded $1.9 billion, comprising 0.49% of its GDP. Cancer claims seven lakh lives every year across India, with another 10 lakh new cases detected annually.
The economic impact of cancer in countries can obviously differ for a range of reasons. These include variations in demography, exposure to cancer risk factors and economic environments. This means each country will have its own unique patterns of productivity loss.
Policies encouraging lifestyle changes which reduce the risk of cancer could have positive effects on the BRICS countries' economies. Combining tobacco control, vaccination programmes and cancer screening with access to adequate treatment could yield significant gains for both public health as well as economic performance.
Workforce and productivity are key resources in ensuring sustained economic growth, particularly in developing countries. Understanding the local priorities for cancer prevention and control can play a big part in the economic health of these countries.