Chronic diseases — heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes — are having a negative economic impact on both the developed and developing world, says this report, which is why they should be properly addressed by domestic and international policy makers. Compared to the epidemiological evidence on the rise of non-communicable diseases in developing nations, there is little information on how this increase will affect their economies.

This report investigates the demographics of the problem and finds that contrary to popular belief, the disproportionate burden of disease on the elderly does have economic implications. The reason is that though the elderly may not be part of the workforce, they are still consumers and therefore a part of the economic equation.

Whether approaches to tackling chronic diseases are cost-effective or not is a vital issue for countries whose health budgets are already overstretched — the report outlines some of the interventions that offer most bang for buck. The authors point out that strategies that work well in developed countries are not so effective in developing countries, and call for more research to assess what will be appropriate.