Introduction Chronic noncommunicable diseases are the major cause of death and disability in all regions of the world, with the exception of sub Saharan Africa, with particularly high levels in parts of the Caribbean and Latin America (LAC). The WHO has shown conservatively that a 2% reduction per year for 10 years in mortality from chronic noncommunicable diseases is achievable from a combination of population wide measures and targeting individuals at high risk. Our aim was to inform public health priority setting through estimating the potential impact and cost of these interventions across LAC.
Methods WHO estimates of the potential impact of three interventions in four Latin American countries were extrapolated, based on UN estimates of population size and for the years 2005–2010, to all areas of LAC.
Results A 15% reduction in salt intake (628 000 deaths averted), 25% reduction in smoking through increased implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (441 500) deaths averted), and scaling up treatment of 60% those already in contact with health services at high risk of cardiovascular death (1 167 000 deaths averted), would avert a total of 2.2 million deaths in LAC over 10 years. More than half of these deaths would be in people aged <70 years old. These interventions would cost <1% of the existing health budget.
Conclusion These estimates show that substantial benefits are achievable, and are being used to prioritise activities within the LAC region.
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