How can we help people prevent, detect and manage chronic diseases, especially in resources-limited settings?
We are facing a chronic disease crisis. Worldwide, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are responsible for 27 million deaths annually, over 75 percent of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. In addition to ending millions of lives, chronic diseases have major economic costs: estimates suggest they will result in tens of trillions of dollars in lost global economic output between 2011 and 2030, and in the U.S. alone, these diseases account for over $600 billion in medical costs each year.
Reversing some of these trends will require improved approaches to both disease prevention and management. In developing countries, the aforementioned chronic diseases are particularly underfunded, despite their high incidence and cost.
Promising opportunities exist to help the millions of patients who are most at risk because of genetic predisposition or risky behavior. Examples include finding ways to adapt successful diabetes prevention strategies to fit different dietary and cultural contexts; innovating new technologies to detect and monitor heart disease risk in rural communities; and increasing access to low-cost, easily deployable tools for stroke awareness among illiterate populations. Solutions might include employing behavioral economics and so-called “nudges” at points-of-purchase to help consumers improve their health through better purchasing behavior; embedding obesity screening and treatment in routine community health care models; and applying innovative technologies to help patients manage health risk behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and drinking too much alcohol. Globally, these examples illustrate just some of the many opportunities to help both caregivers and patients more effectively and efficiently prevent, detect, and manage chronic diseases.
The Solve community aims to help fill some of the acute gaps in thinking, implementation, and discovery which exist in the effort to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. To jumpstart thinking, application, and innovation to mitigate chronic disease cost, morbidity, and mortality, the Solve community can:
- Suggest chronic disease prevention models that can both reduce cost and improve health outcomes, particularly in low-income and developing country settings.
- Propose innovative strategies for chronic disease screening, especially to increase early detection.
- Develop low-cost, rapidly scalable tools and technologies to help patients and caregivers more efficiently and effectively manage chronic disease burdens.