|Jakarta - Non-communicable diseases have cost the Indonesian economy some $7 billion over the last four years for treatment and the loss of productivity, a senior official said, highlighting the need for an aggressive prevention drive.
In her opening remarks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases on Wednesday, Health Minister Nila Djuwita Moeloek said that figure would rise over the years.
The minister highlighted, however, that 80 percent of non-communicable diseases can be prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle, arguing that Southeast Asian governments should focus beyond the health sector.
Nila cited the need for better and healthier agricultural products, as well as educating children on making healthier lifestyle as examples, all of which can be pushed through implementing the right policies.
Other policies to have a significant impact on the health sector include strict city planning and imposing tax and excise on tobacco, alcohol or high-fat products, Nila continued.
"Death from non-communicable diseases can be significantly cut through government policies on the use of tobacco, alcohol or encouraging healthier diet and more physical activities," she said.
More than 120 participants from nine Southeast Asian countries took part in the three-day seminar, comprising of government officials, academics, NGOs and medical professionals.