Early Health - Investment or Cost?

Early Health, i.e. the early detection of diseases, will have to move into the centre of attention - this is the result of a survey by Total Healthcare Solutions (THS). Dr Susanne Michel, Associate Director at THS, underlines that in the future prevention will have to be considered an investment in healthcare rather than a mere cost factor. Decision makers from politics and the healthcare system in 12 European countries participated in the survey.

Dr Susanne Michel discusses Early Health measures with 15 decision makers in 12...
Dr Susanne Michel discusses Early Health measures with 15 decision makers in 12 EU Member States

Due to demographic developments we will be recording a rise in chronic diseases over the next few decades. Particularly in Germany, the healthcare system is facing enormous challenges: in view of the ageing society and the concomitant increase in healthcare costs a viable financing model has to be designed which saves lives and improves the quality of life.

 According to a WHO survey, in 2015 88 mio. people worldwide will die from a chronic disease. This is an increase of 4 percent. Most markedly, deaths from diabetes alone will increase by 23 percent. It is estimated that adequate prevention measures could ward off 80 percent of premature heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes as well as 40 percent of cancer.

In 2002, in Germany alone cardio-vascular diseases generated costs of approx. EUR 35.5 bn. In Europe, the five most significant "cost engines“ are smoking, hypertension, alcohol, obesity, and high blood fat levels.

In Germany in 2002 an estimated 61,548 deaths were attributed to the consumption of tobacco. Each single case generated costs in the amount of EUR 3,800. Consequently, a decrease in the consumption of tobacco by 25 percent would also lead to a cost reduction of 25 percent – that is EUR 950 per case.

90 percent of the decision makers surveyed by Dr Susanne Michel for GE Healthcare agree: “An increase in prevention spending is definitely necessary. And in the long run increased investment in prevention is the only way to maintain the European healthcare system.“

The interviewees were equally unambiguous and in agreement regarding the reasons why so far prevention has not received the attention it merits: prevention is an interdisciplinary issue – it touches for example on education and research – which means there is fierce competition for funds. Moreover, preventive measures are long-term investments which do not fit in the short-term approach prevalent in the world of politics.

18.12.2007

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