• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Combating the scourge of non-communicable diseases in developing nations

Leveraging Africa CDC in prevention and control of non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are long-term illnesses. They can be linked with the social determinants of health: poverty, low level of education, a lower standard of living, and unemployment. Non-communicable diseases impact people from all walks of life, all areas, and all countries including Nigeria.

High rates of NCDs exacerbate poverty, stifle economic development, and overload already-fragile health systems, making countries less robust to emergencies like infectious disease outbreaks or natural catastrophes.

The growing impact of NCDs calls for prompt and proactive measures to combat the scourge.

The UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meetings on NCDs in 2011, 2014 and 2018, reaffirmed the leadership and coordination of WHO in the promotion and monitoring of global action against NCDs, which is the leading cause of death.

Taking steps to combat NCDs will improve global economic and health security and progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The Heads of States and Governments pledged to develop aggressive national responses to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by one-third by 2030 through prevention and treatment.

Taking steps to combat NCDs will improve global economic and health security and progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

NCDs are caused by genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioural factors. This may include bad habits, absence of physical exercise, exposure to tobacco smoking, alcohol intake, and several environmental factors like rapid unplanned urbanisation, globalisation of unhealthy lifestyles, and population ageing.

The most common NCDs are cardiovascular disorders (heart attacks and strokes), chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), cancer, and diabetes.

According to World Bank statistics, NCDs account for 41 million death, which is equivalent to seven out of 10 deaths globally. NCDs are the leading causes of death in low- and middle-income countries as 77 percent of NCDs deaths occur in them.

Also, 85 percent of “premature” deaths of between 30 and 69 years old, in low- and middle-income countries are attributable to NCDs. Thus, children, adults, and the elderly are all susceptible to the risk factors that contribute to NCDs.

Read also: Economic burden of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria (1)

The primary reason for the increase in the number of people with NCDs in poor and middle-income countries can be attributed to the lack of well–designed plans to prevent the development of the diseases.

Countries have developed NCD preventive policies for the significant risk factors at varied rates, although the adoption and implementation of policies took substantially longer in some countries.

Various obstacles to creating and implementing NCD prevention policies have been identified in various nations. Some of the cross-cutting challenges are limited resources; minimal financial means with which to assist policy formation meetings and policy implementation were insufficient in all countries, and in the process, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) appeared to be over-used.

However, NCDs prevention and control can be accomplished at any age. The best solution is for each country to have its management strategy and not just coping strategies that have been passed down from high-income countries.

The management of NCDs also entails recognising, screening and treating these diseases and providing palliative care to those who require it.

The NCDs management interventions are critical for meeting the global goal of a 25-percent decrease in the risk of premature death from NCDs by 2025 and the SDG goal of a one-third reduction in NCD-related premature deaths by 2030.

In addition, focusing on lowering the risk factors linked with NCDs is a crucial method to controlling these diseases. Reducing significant modifiable risk factors include cigarette use, hazardous alcohol consumption, poor diets, and lack of physical activity.

Governments can use a variety of strategies to minimise NCDs among adults. Taxes on harmful products like tobacco, alcohol, and sugary drinks, for example, could be used to fund fruit and vegetable subsidy programmes.

High food and beverage standards, more excellent physical activity in schools and workplaces, air quality monitoring, and smoke-free zones can help avoid NCDs at all stages of life.

However, individual willpower should not be relied on solely to create healthy lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of NCDs. When there are structures, motivational support networks, and national policies, habits are more likely to remain.

Another effective technique for preventing NCDs is the focus on women’s health before and during pregnancy. This targets the source of the disease and can impact on children’s susceptibility to NCDs later in life.

There should be the creation and implementation of effective legal structures. People-centred healthcare and universal health coverage should be the focus of healthcare systems. The primary healthcare strategy can offer high-impact important NCD therapies to increase early identification and timely treatment.

Government should encourage high-quality research and development in line with NCDs prevention and control.

Furthermore, different sectors can contribute to the solution of this challenge in different ways. Therefore, a multi-sectoral approach is essential because NCD risk factors exist in industries other than health.

A comprehensive approach requiring collaboration from many sectors, including health, finance, transportation, education, agriculture, urban planning, and others, to lower NCD risks and promote measures to prevent and control them is needed to reduce the burden of NCDs on individuals and society.

Finally, since NCDs are linked with the social determinants of health; governments and stakeholders in low- and middle-income countries should seriously improve economic growth to prevent NCDs, which have become a primary global health concern.

Coming nearer home, and in a more specific sense, we urge the Nigerian authorities to take very seriously the prescriptions in this piece. This is perhaps the only way in which non-communicable diseases can be eradicated in the country. In coming forth this way, it should be appreciated that time is not on our side.

In view of this, no time should be lost in the bid to ensure that measures are put in place such that Nigerians and Nigeria will start to enjoy a better lease of life in the health sector.