Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are one of the most significant challenges facing countries worldwide in the twenty-first century. The rapid growth in prevalence of diverse conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes, cancer, respiratory disorders, and mental ill health is a significant part of this challenge and NCDs are now the major causes of death and disability in many countries, including low- and middle- income countries and small island developing states. In addition to health impacts, NCDs are responsible for large and growing costs to national economies.
Tackling NCDs in United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs)
Like governments across the globe, the 14 United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are grappling with how to address the rising burden of NCDs, rising health care costs, and the economic squeeze on budgets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These highly diverse territories range from some of the world’s smallest and most remote islands to sizable communities adjacent to populous and highly developed countries, and from some that are largely dependent on overseas development aid to others that are among the world’s wealthiest communities. NCDs are a common denominator across the UKOTs and all territories are seeking to develop their policy frameworks and health systems to address these health conditions.
To address this, RTI’s Center for Global Noncommunicable Diseases contributed to a seminar series organized by the United Kingdom Government Department of Health, Office for Health and Disparities to share and discuss examples of how economic evidence can guide health policy decisions and implementation in the UKOTs. Below we include two examples from the seminar.
Identifying the Benefits of Tobacco Taxation in Saint Helena to Prevent and Reduce NCDs
In the seminar, Dr. Angie Jackson-Morris presented a UKOT example from her work with the Government of Saint Helena which used economic modeling to show the benefits of increasing tobacco taxation. Increasing tobacco taxation is globally recognized as one of the most powerful measures to reduce the burden of tobacco-attributable diseases, and consequently was an objective in Saint Helena’s national Health Promotion Strategic Framework.
Before enacting and implementing the NCD policy, the Island’s decision makers wanted to know the expected impacts on tobacco consumption, health gains for the island population, and excise duty revenue. The analysis used local health and economic data within a globally validated model and identified a set of options for decision makers to consider. Decision makers appreciated the local angle of the analysis that focused on St Helena’s population and economy. They also liked the menu of intervention options they could choose from to balance between economic and health benefits.
Hear Angie discuss the process of developing and considering the evidence in the embedded video below.