Non-communicable Diseases Take over Africa

Non-Communicable Disease arm of World Health Organization report that over 1.7 million people die in Africa due to preventable and manageable diseases (NCD), the highest prevalence in the world.

Non-Communicable Disease also known as chronic diseases are slow progressive and long duration diseases not passed from person to person, they include cardiovascular diseases (like heart attack and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and Diabetes. Children, adults and the elderly are vulnerable to the risk factors (unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or effects of the harmful use of alcohol) contributing to NCD chiefly low and middle income earners.

According to report, all age group and all regions are affected by NCDs but about 82% occurred in low and middle income countries. Forces including ageing, rapid unplanned urbanization and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles help facilitate the advance of these diseases leading to death e.g. globalization of unhealthy lifestyles like unhealthy diets might show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids and obesity referred to as ‘intermediate risk factors’ leading to cardiovascular diseases, a NCDs.

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Risk factors-modifiable behavioural risk factors
Behaviours such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol are the risk factors of NCDs. Below are statistics as provided on WHO website.
*Tobacco accounts for around 6 million death every year (including from the effects if exposure to second hand smoke) and is projected to increase to 8 million by 2030
*About 3.2 million deaths annually can be attributed to insufficient physical activity.
*More than half of the 3.3 million annual deaths from harmful drinking are from NCDs
*In 3020, 1.7 million annual deaths from cardiovascular cases have been attributed to excess salt/sodium intake.

The above risk factors leads to metabolic/physiological changes hiking the risk of NCDs and eventually death. These metabolic changes includes raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose levels) and hyperlipidaemia (high levels of fat in the blood)

Prevention and control of NCDs
*A comprehensive approach towards all sectors including health, finance, foreign affairs, education, agriculture, planning and others to work together to reduce the risks associated with NCDs and also the promotion in the interventions to both prevent and control them.
*Lessening the risk factors associated with these diseases is an important way to reduce NCDs
*High impact essential NCD interventions delivered through a primary health centre approach to strengthen early detection and timely treatment. Creation of healthy public policies that promote NCD prevention and control and reorienting health systems to address the needs of people with such disease.

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Source: WHO report on NCDs

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