THE World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said the growing burden of non-communicable diseases poses a great threat to the health and lives of millions of people in Africa.
This comes over the rising deaths from non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular ailments, and diabetes in Africa that are increasingly becoming the main cause of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
The global health body revealed that in the African continent, the diseases were responsible for 37 per cent of deaths in 2019, rising from 24 per cent in 2000 largely due to weaknesses in the implementation of critical control measures that include prevention, diagnosis, and care.
She noted that over a third of deaths in the region were due to these illnesses, adding that what is particularly concerning, is that that premature deaths from non-communicable diseases are rising among people younger than 70 years.
Dr. Moeti said, “Decisive action is needed to address the risk factors for non-communicable diseases for these preventable diseases.
“The heads of state and health leaders meeting for the inaugural International Strategic Dialogue on Non-communicable Disease and the Strategic Development Goals on 12 April are expected to agree on an initiative to boost progress towards the key Sustainable Development Goals of reducing mortality from non-communicable diseases by 30 per cent by 2030.
“The meeting will also agree on ways to speed up the efforts to achieving the key targets of universal health coverage that include access to quality, safe, effective and affordable health care.”
The WHO official pointed out that progress against non-communicable diseases has also suffered setbacks due to disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic on essential health services.
She added, “About 80 per cent of countries in the African region reported disruption to at least one health service against non-communicable disease between May and September 2021.
“Countries are striving to restore services, although many have not yet been fully re-established”, she said.
On the way forward, Dr. Moeti said one of the crucial ways of controlling non-communicable diseases is to reduce the risk factors which include tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
“Improved investment in detection, screening and treatment contributes – notably by ensuring access to health services at the primary level to boost early detection – are the other significant measures to lower the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.
“WHO is providing technical expertise to countries to devise and implement strategies to reduce the preventable and avoidable burden of morbidity, mortality and disability due to non-communicable diseases and to track progress,” she said.