Never too late: Prevention in an ageing world
Following a year-long programme engaging policymakers and thought leaders across the world on Prevention in an ageing world, this report explores how health care systems can better prevent ill health across people’s lives.
The report finds that in better off countries, in 2017 alone, 27.1 million years were lived with disability due to a number of largely preventable age-related diseases, with years lived in poor health set to increase by 17% over the next 25 years, if governments fail to prioritise preventative health interventions right across the life course.
Among those aged 50-64, these preventable illnesses cost better off countries $692 billion (£532 billion) in sick days, presenteeism and early retirement a year, composed of:
- $390 billion (£300 billion) as a result of cardiovascular disease
- $250 billion (£192 billion) as a result of type 2 diabetes
- $39 billion (£30 billion) as a result of flu
- $9 billion (£7 billion) as a result of lung cancer
- $4 billion (£3 billion) as a result of HIV
Governments across the world have repeatedly stated their commitment to prevention across the life course – from support for the WHO’s Decade of Healthy Ageing to G20 statements affirming the importance of prevention.
However, despite the clear economic and social benefits of investing in prevention, preventative services are often the first to be cut in times of crisis and remain consistently low at an average of 2-4% of total health spend across OECD countries.
The report argues that in order to follow through on commitments to prevention, governments need to:
- Democratise access to preventative interventions, in order to tackle growing health inequalities;
- Inspire and engage people, communities, professionals and policymakers with the need to take action to promote good health and prevent illness; and
- Effectively utilise technology to deliver preventative interventions.