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Economic & Social Returns to Health Investments

Strategic Dialogue

Programming Partner: U.S. Chamber of Commerce



  • Lucas Tramontozzi discussed the results of a project conducted by the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies regarding the social returns on investment in the treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, various cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases. 

“The lack of health records on digital platforms that allow us to actually look for opportunities to use technology and also to create accountability around the use of technology is perhaps one of the most important challenges that we have,” Marcelo Cabrol

  • Tramontozzi began the session by acknowledging how the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed the interconnectedness of our nation’s public health and economy, as well as exposed the limitations of our current healthcare system. He presented the economic argument for investment in NCD prevention and treatment: it would enable productivity and attendance in the workplace, promote socio-economic inclusion, and improve the health and resilience of the population at-large in anticipation of a future pandemic. He claimed that NCDs are a pressing issue considering an aging workforce and the prevalence of NCDS in older age groups, and that NCD-related mortality and illness could go on to have an adverse effect on individuals, businesses, governments, and global economies. The Victoria Institute calculated that, on average, for every dollar invested in NCD treatment and prevention, countries would generate a return of $20 in productivity and mortal value of those treated. These high benefit to cost ratios demonstrate that public health should be viewed as a worthwhile investment and as an opportunity for economic and social development, rather than as a cost to be cut.

“A growing number of corporate leaders understand the importance of taking measures and understand the correlation between health and productivity,” Inamura Takuma

  • Marcelo Cabrol found the Victoria Institute study very relevant to his areas of expertise—Latin America and the Caribbean—where NCDs account for more than 80% of deaths. For many NCD-afflicted people in Latin America, the expense of NCD-related healthcare has led to the postponement of care—a critical problem that has become even more dire and consequential during today’s pandemic.

“We need to bring a range of stakeholders to tackle this issue in a holistic way. Coordination, and building the respective strengths of partners, is key,” Angela Wasunna

  • Takuma Inamura spoke of healthcare costs in Japan, the “fastest-aging society in the world,” where more than 28% of the population is elderly (aged 65 or older). By 2050, the Japanese population is projected to be more than 40% elderly. In Japan, too, investment in NCD treatment and prevention is a priority. In 2014, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry initiated the Health & Productivity Management Certification to push companies to extend employee medical care and engage in strategic health and productivity management efforts. The certification program began with just 30 companies in its inaugural year but has grown to include more than 6,000 companies as of last year. Furthermore, more than a quarter of the companies listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange have participated in this certification program.
  • Angela Wasunna said that while emerging market countries may grapple with the coronavirus pandemic today, the “silent pandemic” of NCDs is not one to sideline, as they act in tandem with one another. People affected by NCDs are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and more likely to die from the disease. Both pandemics unveil the drastic health inequities in developing countries. However, Wasunna noted one asset of most emerging market countries: young populations. Accordingly, she suggested an overhaul of these countries’ youth education programs for more comprehensive coverage of health, wellness, and nutrition, as well as increased access to annual physical exams for children. She noted the rollout of universal healthcare in some developing countries and expressed optimism for these countries’ national health insurance policies.


  • “Private sector companies have a responsibility to work in public-private partnerships with governments to really help them look at the challenge. No company or government can fix it on their own, and they need to work together on key parts of the health infrastructure that can be modernized and improved,” Chris Bonnett


  • Chris Bonnett stressed the responsibility of companies like GE Healthcare to form public-private partnerships and modernize the public health infrastructure. In 2015, the Kenyan government selected GE Healthcare as one of its main partners in a seven-year Managed Equipment Services Partnership, providing access to the latest medical technologies, services, and skills development to 98 hospitals across Kenya’s 47 counties.

Key takeaways & next steps:


  • Corporate leaders around the world must commit themselves and their companies to the health and productivity of their workers.
  • Multi-sectoral partnership and coordination is needed to address NCD treatment and prevention holistically, but all partners should privilege the government’s public agenda more than their own. 
  • Training for community-based health workers in developing nations is needed.  
  • An overhaul of developing countries’ youth education programs must be undertaken for more comprehensive coverage of health, wellness, and nutrition, as well as increased access to annual physical exams for children.





Session Speakers