Economics of Non-Communicable Diseases in India


This report was published on November 5, 2014 by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health. It highlights the extensive economic impact of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in India. The report suggests that by 2030 the nation is set to lose a total of 4.58 trillion US dollars in economic output because of NCDs and mental health conditions.

It hopes to spur conversations on the burden of NCDs on society and economy as well as stimulate investments for prevention of NCDs. Between 2010 and 2030, NCDs and mental health conditions are predicted to cost the world 47 trillion US dollars of economic output. It recommends sustained monitoring and efforts towards data collection and sharing to lower their impact.

The 68-page report contains six major sections: Background (Section 1); Non-Communicable Diseases and Risk Factors in India (Section 2); The Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in India (Section 3); Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases in India: Intervention Costs and Returns (Section 4); Principles for Measuring Return on Investment and Collecting Data (Section 5); and Conclusions and Final Messages (Section 6).


  1. Cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes have emerged as the most prevalent NCDs in India and are approximated to cause 60 per cent of all deaths in the country. According to data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, cited in the report, NCDs accounted for far more disability adjusted life years than communicable diseases in India – 235 million and 222 million years respectively.

  2. The report notes that 40 per cent of hospital stays and 35 per cent of outpatient visits recorded in India are due to NCDs. The country is expected to incur economic losses of 2.17 trillion and 1.03 trillion US dollars due to cardiovascular diseases and mental health conditions respectively before 2030.

  3. The report recognizes multiple factors such as globalization, urbanization and increasing ageing population as leading to more NCDs. It states that such changes are predicted to put pressure on private households as well as healthcare delivery systems.

  4. The report lists four major causal elements behind the prevalence of NCDs in India: tobacco use in many forms like cigarettes, bidis and gutkha; harmful use of alcohol with 10.6 million people considered dependent users; a lack of physical activity; and an improper diet.

  5. Citing research from 2010, the report notes that if risk factors are tackled properly, NCD-related premature deaths would be cut down by 40-50 per cent.

  6. Based on 2011 research by the Harvard School of Public Health, the report states that the urban population in India had twice the rate of diabetes than their rural counterparts signifying a notable disparity. Diabetes diagnosis also occurred more among those with a middle school or high school degree than those with a primary degree.

  7. The same research also found higher use of tobacco among men and more obesity and lack of exercise among women. The report suggests that for interventions to be successful they need to tailored to socio-economic groups as well as genders.

    Focus and Factoids by Deepsikha Dasgupta.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health


World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health


05 Nov, 2014