Background: When people die due to cancer, their contribution to society through paid work, called production, is lost. Previous estimates of cancer-related lost production have focussed on developed countries. However, developing nations account for approximately 70% of the world’s annual cancer deaths. We estimate the value of lost productivity due to cancer mortality in the rapidly emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and compare it to the UK.
Methods: Based on the Human Capital Approach, we valued the lost productivity associated with premature cancer deaths in BRICS countries and the UK in 2012. We used GLOBOCAN estimates of cancer deaths by country, sex and age group, along with OECD and national data for workforce participation, unemployment, and wage rates. Sensitivity analyses examined the impact of changing assumptions about wages, life expectancy and discounting.
Results: The total cost of cancer-related lost productivity in the UK in 2012 was €3 billion, and in the BRICS countries combined was over €24 billion. Losses were highest in China (€12.9 billion) and lowest in South Africa (€0.9 billion). When adjusted by number of deaths, lost productivity (per death) were highest in South Africa (€19,000), the UK (€19,000), and Brazil (€14,000) and lowest in India (€3,000). There were large differences between countries in terms of lost productivity when examined by gender, age and cancer. For example, the cancers contributing highest productivity losses were lung cancer in Russia (22% of total), South Africa (14%), Brazil (13%) and the UK (11%), stomach cancer in India (11%), and liver cancer in China (31%).
Discussion: In many developing countries cancer now kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, however resources have not shifted correspondingly. Valuing cancer-related lost productivity provides policy-makers with an additional perspective on priorities for cancer prevention and control.
Note: This presentation was awarded 'Best New Investigator Presentation' at the Annual European Congress of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.