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Self-Care Saving Taxpayers $120bn Per Year, Could Increase To $180bn By 2030

Executive Summary

Self-care practices could save healthcare systems about $180bn a year, individuals 18bn hours a year, and increase productivity by 72bn extra workdays by 2030 if the right policies are implemented, argues a new report by the Global Self-Care Federation. 

Self-care is saving healthcare systems globally about $120bn a year, reports the Global Self-Care Federation in a new publication.

This figure could rise to roughly $180bn if self-care’s significant further potential is realised, the association insists, in its recently published Economic & Social Value of Self-Care Report.

Reviewing the scientific literature on worldwide self-care practices and their economic and social benefits, the GSCF report also points to gains in overall productivity, welfare and quality of life for individuals.

Self-care currently saves individuals a total of 11bn hours per year and raises their productivity at work to the tune of 41bn extra days-worth of labour every year.

By implementing the GSCF’s recommendations, this could increase to 18bn hours saved and 72bn extra workdays by 2030, the association says.

These recommendations include:

  • Coherent healthcare policy and regulation supporting self-care

  • Accountability and collective action from all stakeholders to ensure that self-care is a key driver in accelerating the delivery of universal health coverage.

  • Health literacy to be recognised as a fundamental catalyst for change, ensuring individuals understand and act upon credible health information to become active self-managers of their health.

  • Self-care to be understood as a multi-faceted and multidimensional concept which includes a variety of health-related practices.

“In general, there needs to be a greater recognition of these elements and the benefits of self-care from all key stakeholders,” the association argues.

Landmark Study

GSCF secretary general Judy Stenmark described the report as a “landmark global study” that demonstrates the value self-care delivers for individuals, communities and health systems.

“It’s actually the first global research project that analyses the worldwide value of self-care and is the first study to include data from lower middle-income countries, giving it a truly global perspective,” she told HBW Insight.

“The results clearly demonstrate that self-care delivers both social and economic benefits on a global scale, regardless of the specific health system or demographic status,” Stenmark continued.

“There is also great potential for increased benefits to be delivered to individuals and health systems with an increased uptake of self-care,” she said.

GSCF is currently calling for a “global compact” that would pave the way for a future World Health Organization resolution on self-care. (Also see "GSCF Calls For WHO-Backed Global Self-Care Agreement" - HBW Insight, 6 Oct, 2021.)

Through a “shared understanding” of the value of self-care across countries, GSCF believes that it can “build the necessary momentum to fully integrate it into health systems for the benefit of individuals and society,” the association said in a position paper launched alongside its Self-Care Readiness Index.

More To Be Done

The recently published Economic & Social Value of Self-Care Report “once again underlines the fact that more needs to be done to recognise self-care,” Stenmark commented.

“Self-care contributes to many important global ambitions, including universal health coverage, as well as meeting WHO’s triple billion objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” she continued. “It needs to be recognised as more of a global priority by governments.”

GSCF is also urging authorities across the world to reflect on the regulatory innovations introduced during COVID-19 to keep medicines on the market and to retain those that will continue to benefit consumers in the post-COVID era.

Analyzing the changes and trends in regulation during the coronavirus pandemic, GSCF has outlined recommendations for future policy and regulation in three papers covering the following areas:

  • Regulation of e-commerce of non-prescription medicines;

  • Modernizing regulation of non-Prescription medicines through increased flexibility and digitalization;

  • Enhancing supply chains to ensure consumer access to non-prescription medicines.

Taken together, the papers advocate for an assessment for potential adoption of many of the innovative policies and regulation changes seen during the pandemic into normal practice, to benefit enhanced access to non-prescription medicines. (Also see "Learn From Regulatory Innovation During COVID-19, Urges Global Self-Care Industry" - HBW Insight, 29 Mar, 2022.)

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