The world health report

Chapter 5

Some Strategies to Reduce Risk

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This chapter puts forward the best available evidence on the cost and effectiveness of selected interventions to reduce some of the major risk factors discussed in Chapter Four. It looks at the extent to which these interventions are likely to improve population health, both singly and in combination. It illustrates how decision-makers can begin the policy debate about priorities with information about which interventions would yield the greatest possible improvements in population health for the available resources. The chapter examines a range of strategies to reduce different types of risk, and the possible impact of those strategies on costs and effectiveness. Many risk reduction strategies involve a component of behaviour change, and some types of behaviour change might require active government intervention to succeed. Different ways of attaining the same goal are discussed, for example, the population-wide versus the individual-based approach and prevention versus treatment. With regard to policy implications, the chapter concludes that very substantial health gains can be made for relatively modest expenditures on interventions. However, the maximum possible gains for the resources that are available will be attained only through careful consideration of the costs and effects of interventions.