All AHPP News News December 9, 2020

How to Prevent Diabetes and Other Chronic Diseases Cost-Effectively

Addressing the epidemic of chronic diseases in India and other low- and middle-income countries requires comprehensive evidence on the cost-effectiveness of health interventions, argue APARC’s Asia Health Policy Program Director Karen Eggleston and Postdoctoral Fellow Radhika Jain.
A woman has blood drawn at a clinic in Bombay, India
A woman has blood drawn at a clinic in Bombay, India. Alyssa Banta, Getty Images

India is facing a mounting burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular diseases. NCDs affect more than 20 percent of the Indian population and their prevalence is projected to expand substantially as the population aged 60 and over increases. Left unchecked, the costs of managing chronically ill and aging sectors of the population grow exponentially.

To control costs and address the growing chronic disease burden, India’s public programs must integrate curative hospital services with the most cost-effective preventive and primary interventions, argue Karen Eggleston, APARC’s deputy director and the director of the Asia Health Policy Program (AHPP), and Radhika Jain, a postdoctoral research fellow with AHPP. India must also urgently expand and improve the evidence base on economic evaluations of both preventive and curative health interventions in the country.

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In a correspondence piece published by BMC Medicine, Eggleston and Jain examine the features and limitations of a study that takes an important first step in that direction: a cost-effectiveness study of the Kerala Diabetes Prevention program (K-DPP) that adds such evidence on how to prevent diabetes cost-effectively in India and other low- and middle-income countries.

The study’s authors present a cost-effectiveness analysis of 1007 participants in the K-DPP, and their estimates indicate that K-DPP was cost-effective. Indeed, Eggleston and Jain determine that the analysis shows potential cost-effectiveness in “nudging” the participants towards a healthier lifestyle through suggestive reductions in tobacco and alcohol use and waist circumference. The results of the cost-effectiveness analysis of the K-DPP “highlight the importance of continued research on community-based promotion of healthy lifestyles,” say Eggleston and Jain.

Evidence-based approaches to chronic noncommunicable disease intervention are essential for providing cost-effective care and creating models for future programs like the K-DPP. Eggleston and Jain conclude that future studies advancing evidence-based approaches to chronic noncommunicable disease intervention — ones that cover larger and more representative populations over longer time periods — remain important for more generalizable assessments to inform policy decisions.

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