Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continue to be a critical health concern in our nation, constituting a staggering 69 percent of total deaths. Among these, cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, stand out, accounting for a substantial 28 percent of these fatalities. This alarming statistic demands urgent attention and proactive measures from individuals and policymakers alike.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, poses a particularly menacing threat, significantly elevating the risk of mortality from stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. The data speaks volumes: individuals with hypertension are four times more likely to succumb to stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease or kidney failure—grim realities that underscore the urgent need for action.

Despite the severity of this health crisis, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure among adults continues to rise, with a concerning increase from 28 percent in 2019 to 30 percent in 2023. Even more troubling is the fact that a staggering 65 percent of the adult population remains undiagnosed for hypertension, highlighting a critical gap in our healthcare system’s ability to detect and address this silent killer.

Recognising the gravity of the situation, the 13th Plan has rightfully prioritised NCDs as a key health issue. However, addressing this multifaceted challenge requires more than just policy directives—it demands a comprehensive approach that encompasses preventive strategies, early detection, and robust healthcare infrastructure.

The financial implications of NCDs are undeniable. Over the past few years, the government has spent substantial resources—approximately Nu 1.2 billion—towards patient referrals, reflecting a significant increase in healthcare expenditures. From Nu 206.8 million in 2021 to Nu 525.95 million in 2023-2024, these escalating costs underscore the urgency of investing in preventive measures to alleviate the burden on our healthcare system and national budget.

It’s clear that tackling NCDs requires a significant shift—one that prioritises investment in behavioural change and preventive healthcare initiatives. By empowering individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, promoting regular screenings for early detection, and strengthening primary healthcare services, we can stem the tide of NCDs and avert countless premature deaths.

Investing in behavioural change is not just a matter of saving lives—it’s a prudent financial decision that could potentially save us millions in healthcare expenditures. By allocating resources towards preventive measures, we can reduce the burden on our healthcare system, improve population health outcomes, and foster a healthier, more resilient society.