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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cost of Poor Health Pegged at $11Bln

Diseases including heart disease and diabetes will cost Russia roughly $11.1 billion this year, according to a report published Thursday by the World Bank.

The economic cost to the country is set to rise to an estimated $66.4 billion by 2015, the report said, as it called on the government to tackle the country's population decline and encourage healthier lifestyles.

The World Bank also highlighted the cost of accidents to the country, as well as that of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and heart conditions.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, an official from the World Health Organization said health should be viewed as a motor for economic growth rather than a byproduct of it.

"There is a need to invest in health to promote [economic] development," said Marc Suhrcke of the WHO, which contributed to the report, titled "Dying Too Young."

Gross domestic product per capita could be increased by as much as $9,243 by 2025 if deaths from injuries and noncommunicable diseases are reduced, the report said.

Cardiovascular diseases, other noncommunicable diseases and accidents account for 70 percent of all deaths in Russia, the report said, with the rates of deaths from noncommunicable diseases and injuries respectively running three and five times higher than in Western Europe.

Peter Westin, chief economist at MDM Bank, praised the report's focus on health but disagreed that a declining Russian population would lead to a drop in economic growth, arguing that such a scenario was more likely in labor-intensive economies such as China and India.

"Russia is a capital-intensive economy where that might not be the case," he said. "If you have technological capabilities, you can enjoy the same output with fewer people," he added.

The publication of the report coincides with the release of data produced by the Audit Chamber highlighting the fact that the amount of money put into free health care by the state is less than 3 percent of GDP -- lower than the 5 percent recommended by the WHO.

Russia does not run a separate state-funded program on promoting healthy lifestyles. "It is too complicated and too multifaceted," said Ruslan Khalfin, a senior official at the Health and Social Development Ministry.