Noncommunicable diseases pose a growing threat to public health and economic performance in GCC countries, says new World Bank report
DUBAI, May 17, 2023 — Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies are expected to grow at a slower pace in 2023 compared to the previous year, facing falling oil and gas revenues and a global economic slowdown, according to the New Gulf Economic Update (GEU) from the World Bank. The GCC is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2023 and 3.2% in 2024. This compares to the region’s remarkable GDP growth of 7.3% in 2022, fueled by a sharp increase in oil production for most of this year.
This weaker performance is mainly due to the decline in hydrocarbon GDP, which is expected to contract by 1.3% in 2023 after the announcement of the OPEC+ production cut in April 2023 and the global economic slowdown. However, robust growth in non-oil sectors, expected to reach 4.6% in 2023, will ease the deficit in hydrocarbon-related activities, driven mainly by private consumption, fixed investments and a looser fiscal policy in response to revenues. relatively high oil prices of 2023. .
The latest issue of the World Bank’s GEU indicates that this year’s more modest growth is nevertheless supported by structural reforms undertaken in recent years. The improvement in the business climate and competitiveness, as well as the overall improvement in women’s participation in the labor market in the GCC countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia, have borne fruit, although diversification efforts Additional information is still needed and is in progress.
This issue of GEU, titled “The health and economic burden of noncommunicable diseases in GCC countries,” focuses on how noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of mortality and morbidity, accounting for nearly 75% of all non-communicable diseases. deaths and disabilities in the region. Of these deaths and disabilities, more than 80% are attributed to four main categories of NCDs: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases.
The report also highlights the substantial cost of NCDs to the economies of GCC countries. A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Economics, a collaboration between experts from the World Bank and key stakeholders across the GCC, estimated the direct medical costs of seven major NCDs at approximately 16.7 billion in 2019 alone. The same study found that NCDs also impose significant indirect costs on their economies, due to their negative impact on human capital. Labor productivity losses alone cost GCC economies more than $80 billion in 2019. With the aging of the population, and with it the prevalence of NCDs, these costs are only expected to increase. increase in the future.
To address the health and economic burden of NCDs in the region, the underlying risk factors that cause NCDs must first be addressed. At the heart of these risk factors are modifiable behavioral risk factors such as poor diet, lack of physical exercise and consumption of tobacco and sugary products. Environmental risk factors such as air pollution are also important. Air pollution levels in GCC countries are currently well above OECD averages.
“Many GCC countries have already taken impressive steps to combat these risk factors, including taxing tobacco products and sugary drinks, restricting or banning tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship, and reducing tobacco consumption. quantity of salt thanks to a reformulation. Several GCC countries have also set important environmental targets. Much more can be done to minimize NCDs and their costs in the future.” said Issam Abousleiman, World Bank Regional Director for the GCC.
The report highlights that effectively addressing the health and economic burden of NCDs requires a whole-of-government approach, a strategic focus on prevention, targeting youth and adolescents, and the development and implementation of multi-sectoral interventions. evidence-based and context-relevant. Government agencies must work together now to minimize the future threat of NCDs.