ANKARA, Turkey--()--Improved chronic disease prevention and management strategies could boost Turkey’s national economy by nearly 10 percent concludes a study released today.
“We applaud the Turkish Ministry of Health’s commitment to improving the health of the nation and hope that this work will be a useful resource in meeting future chronic disease challenges.”
The study, Transforming Health in Turkey: 21st Century Opportunities, was prepared by international health experts from the University College of London, Haceteppe University and LSE Health in association with the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.
The new analysis finds that about 6.5 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost by Turkish men and women each year as a result of chronic conditions such as heart disease, strokes, type II diabetes and mental health problems such as treatable depression. Translated into economic terms, this represents a current welfare loss equivalent to 8-10 percent of the nation’s annual domestic product (GDP).
Turkey has achieved world-class performance in cutting infant and child death rates and reducing maternal mortality. Babies born today can on average expect to live until at least 75 years of age, 25 years more than in 1970. But with longer life expectancy and the other benefits of rapid economic and social development, the prevalence of chronic, non-communicable disease in later life is also rising.
”The government is introducing policies and services aimed at tackling disease causes such as smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels associated with factors such as obesity and lack of exercise,” commented report co-author and health economist Professor Mehtap Tatar of Turkey’s Hacettepe University today. “ But Transforming Health in Turkey finds that even more could be done to curb the rapid growth in problems such as life style associated diabetes, which has doubled since the 1990s.”
Study author David Taylor, Professor of Pharmaceutical and Public Health Policy at University College London added, “life style changes like giving up smoking and taking more exercise as both men and women get older are vital. Yet the international evidence also favors wider use of medicines such as those for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If Turkey can build further on present policies aimed at extending primary health care through family doctor (and community pharmacy) services and promoting rational medicines use and healthy aging it could enjoy additional future benefits equivalent to another 10 percent of national income.”
“Effective chronic disease prevention and early stage treatment often gives very good value for money,” stated Professor Tatar. “From an economic perspective it may well be wise to spend more on areas like these, even if this raises the proportion of our national wealth devoted to health care up from 6 percent closer to the 9 percent average for the world’s advanced nations.”
Despite the great advances made in recent decades, Transforming Health in Turkey finds evidence gathered by leading Turkish doctors, epidemiologists and social scientists indicating that many people have not yet fully recognized the importance of protecting themselves and their families from the threats of chronic illness and long term disability.
Over a half of those with dangerously raised blood pressure are not receiving any treatment. Similarly, research shows that nearly half of all Turks with type II diabetes are currently unaware of their condition. Such findings warn of greatly increased future levels of not only premature mortality, but also of avoidable disability.
“Unless further action is taken, Turkey could be faced with a ‘second wave’ disease burden that will undermine the positive achievements of recent decades and disadvantage its future economy in ways that the ‘older’ industrialized nations have never had to experience,” said Kenneth Thorpe, Chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. “If public health measures can be effectively combined with better prevention and disease management, 21st century Turkey could overtake areas like western Europe and North America in the pursuit of better health as well as greater wealth.”
“Through the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, we are engaged throughout the world in advancing best practices in the prevention and management of non communicable disease and we believe that Transforming Health in Turkey will be an important and constructive contribution to raising awareness about the social and economic impact of chronic disease in this country and to raising awareness of the role of prevention and early stage treatment in promoting better health in middle and later life”, Thorpe continued. “We applaud the Turkish Ministry of Health’s commitment to improving the health of the nation and hope that this work will be a useful resource in meeting future chronic disease challenges.”
About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
The PFCD is an international coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the world: chronic, non communicable disease.
The full report can be accessed in Turkish and English: