Release notice – Collaborating to advance economics of noncommunicable diseases

In July 2018, the Pan American Journal of Public Health published a thematic issue on the Economics of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs). Integrating economic tools and methods to build evidence for multisectoral NCD efforts is a focus of collaboration between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). This ongoing effort, profiled in the issue, aims to encourage interdisciplinary research to bridge NCD evidence gaps.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, provided an editorial comment in the issue. She stresses the benefits of using the analytical language of economics when communicating with experts outside the health sector and calls for increased collaboration. She acknowledges that harnessing economics will require better integration of economic data into surveillance platforms and adaptation of economic methods for public health applications.

Two articles by PHAC researchers discuss the economic rationale, methods and evidence towards an investment case for obesity prevention and control in the Region of Americas. Many evidence gaps exist. The authors found limited Region-specific studies on consumer behaviour, on comprehensive NCD burden or on the economic evaluation of interventions. They outline how a comprehensive investment case for obesity would rely on a social cost-benefit analysis framework where monetized social benefits of a healthier population are measured against the cost of interventions. The investment case should also include other criteria such as equity, feasibility and synergy among a proposed suite of interventions.

Two other articles in the issue discuss causal pathways from socioeconomic status to health and from trade to health. Also, three Regional studies are presented: one on unhealthy diet and physical activity patterns, another on tobacco taxation, and the third on affordability and taxation for beer and sugar-sweetened beverages.


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