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Building Back Better: Investing in healthy populations and resilient heath systems for NCDs and Mental Health to be better prepared for future crises.


Foresight Global Health

04 Feb 2021

An open letter to Heads of State and Government

The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated deep inequalities in our societies and highlighted the need to invest smarter to address the health care needs of people living with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and associated mental health conditions – and other chronic illnesses. From country to country, we need to make a massive effort to increase investments in prevention, screening, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these diseases, which today cause more than 70% of global deaths and are seven of the ten leading cause of deaths according to the newly published WHO Global Health estimates.

Data shows that people living with these NCDs are at a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, are more likely to be hospitalized, and are at a higher risk of death. Emerging studies of critically ill COVID-19 patients tell the same story around the world. Of those dying of COVID-19 in Italian hospitals, 67% were people living with hypertension and 31% with diabetes.  In Spain, 43% of people who developed COVID-19 disease were living with cardiovascular diseases. In Indonesia, 16% of reported COVID-19 deaths were people living with diabetes.  In Mexico, of deaths from COVID-19 in the Indigenous population, diabetes was the most frequent comorbidity (30%). Mortality has been high in long-term care facilities for people with dementia and other mental health conditions. Those who are lucky enough to recover from COVID-19 may well face additional long-term health challenges.

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