KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8: A new report by the health ministry and World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer cost the local economy more than RM8.91 billion a year, or 0.65% of the country’s gross domestic product.
This figure is attributed to productivity loss caused by absenteeism and premature death of those among the working population.
The Impact of Non-communicable Diseases and Their Risk Factors on Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product report, released today, used data from 2017, with the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 showing the prevalence of NCDs is on the rise.
According to health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, NCDs are often associated with healthcare costs, but such evidence shows how NCDs hamper the social and economic development of our country.
WHO representative in Malaysia Dr Lo Ying-Ru said every disability and premature death from non-communicable diseases was tragic because they were preventable, adding that the government and citizens must commit to turning the tide to save lives.
Tobacco use, poor diet, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity were found to be risk factors associated with NCDs.
“It’s time to invest in the prevention and control of NCDs. Governments and other stakeholders can reduce NCDs by applying cost-effective interventions,” said Lo.
“At the same time, individuals can also make a difference by changing their behaviours and making a conscious decision to live a healthier life. We should all work together to beat NCDs.”
Hisham said while Malaysia had already created a Cabinet committee for a health promoting environment to tackle NCDs, there was still some way to go.
“While we are working hard to address NCDs at its roots, clearly much more needs to be done,” he said.