India Stands to Lose More than $4.58 Trillion to Non-Communicable Diseases

  • world economic forumNew report from the World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health finds that India stands to lose $4.58 trillion to non-communicable diseases, an amount more than double India’s annual GDP
  • Five key interventions reduce incidence of the diseases, and potentially provide a 15% return on investment
  • Key decision-makers from government, civil society and academia meet this week at the India Economic Summit to identify pathways to activate these investment strategies in India

New Delhi, India, 5 November 2014 – A new report released today by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that India stands to lose $4.58 trillion due to non-communicable diseases and mental disorders between 2012 and 2030, an amount more than double India’s annual GDP. The Economics of Non-Communicable Diseases Report provides an account of the forces driving this economic burden and an assessment of interventions that, if implemented, can reverse this trend with a return on investment of at least 15%.

“As India’s new government resets the course of the nation, this report shows that addressing this health burden must be central to the agenda,” said Arnaud Bernaert, Senior Director of Global Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum. “Business leaders and government feel this pressure, and continued focus and collaboration on NCD prevention and control will be worthwhile. As the report highlights, primary prevention of NCDs, built upon robust early screening and a strong healthcare infrastructure, can provide India with favourable returns on investment.”

The report analyses 12 interventions for India, and what it would take for them to deliver attractive social returns on investment (ROI). Each of the following interventions was found to yield a 15% favourable ROI[1]:

  • Screening (in the case of hypertension)
  • Vaccination (in the case of human papillomavirus)
  • Reduced tobacco use (in the case of public policy prevention and mobilizing youth)
  • Stepped care intervention (in the case of depressive and anxiety disorders)

“The global burden of NCDs is expected to increase due to two related demographic phenomena: global population growth and an increasing older population,” said David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco consumption also drive the development of NCDs. In India, this is no exception, and NCDs are a large and growing challenge for its continued development. But solutions are available to improve the prognosis, reduce costs and create a healthier population.”

The impetus for the report stems from 2014 data from the World Health Organization, which shows that an estimated 60% of all deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The most prevalent NCDs are cardiovascular disease (cause of 26% of deaths in India, 2014), chronic respiratory disease (13%), cancer (7%) and diabetes (2%). The report seeks to dispel the myth that NCDs only affect high-income economies, and to shed light on the serious cost implications that will be faced by middle-income countries if communicable disease prevention remains their only focus.

Key decision-makers from government, civil society and academia are meeting this week to identify pathways to activate these beneficial investment strategies in India. They are gathered at the India Economic Summit, hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi from 4 to 6 November.

[1] When each predicted year lived without disease and disability is valued at the conservative World Health Organization recommended guideline of Indian per capita GDP.


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