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An investment of USD 371 billion will be required to achieve key global health targets and prevent 97 million premature deaths in 67 countries, including India, by 2030, a study has said.
The SDG Health Price Tag was published today in The Lancet Global Health.
It estimates the costs and benefits of progressively expanding health services in order to reach 16 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) health targets in 67 low-and middle- income countries that account for 75 per cent of the world's population.
The analysis shows that investments to expand services towards universal health coverage and the other SDG health targets could prevent 97 million premature deaths globally between now and 2030, and add as much as 8.4 years of life expectancy in some countries.
While most countries can afford the investments needed, the poorest nations will need assistance to reach the targets, it said.
"Universal health coverage is ultimately a political choice. It is the responsibility of every country and national government to pursue it," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, wrote in a commentary accompanying the paper.
The SDG Health Price Tag models two scenarios - an "ambitious" scenario in which investments are sufficient for countries to attain the health targets in the SDGs by 2030, and a "progress" scenario in which countries get two-thirds or more of the way to the targets.
In both scenarios, health systems investments such as employing more health workers, building and operating new clinics, hospitals and laboratories and buying medical equipment account for about 75 per cent of the total.
The remaining costs are for medicines, vaccines, syringes and other commodities used to prevent or treat specific diseases, and for activities such as training, health campaigns and outreach to vulnerable communities, it said.
"Under the 'ambitious' scenario, achieving the SDG health targets would require new investments increasing over time from an initial USD 134 billion annually to USD 371 billion, or USD 58 per person, by 2030," it said.
The analysis shows that 85 per cent of these costs can be met with domestic resources, although as many as 32 of the world's poorest countries will face an annual gap of up to USD 54 billion and will continue to need external assistance.
The ambitious scenario includes adding more than 23 million health workers, and building more than 415,000 new health facilities, 91 per cent of which would be primary healthcare centres, it said.
The investments could prevent 97 million premature deaths--one every five seconds over 15 years--including more than 50 million infants and children who are either stillborn or die before their fifth birthday, and 20 million deaths from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, it said.
Life expectancy would increase by between 3.1 and 8.4 years, and 535 million years of healthy living would be added across the 67 countries, it added.
The "progress" scenario would require new investments increasing from an initial USD 104 billion a year to USD 274 billion, or USD 41 per person, by 2030.
These investments would prevent about 71 million premature deaths and boost health spending as a proportion of GDP to an average of 6.5 per cent, the study said.
More than 14 million new health workers would be added, and nearly 378,000 new health facilities built, 93 per cent of which would be primary health care centres.
The study said that its model included all low-income countries, the 20 most populous lower-middle-income countries, and the 20 most populous upper-middle-income countries (thereby including large countries such as China, India, and Indonesia).