Reducing non-communicable diseases’ deaths

Medical experts at Nigerian NCD Alliance Workshop on Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) response to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria organised for Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), States Ministry of Health (SMoH), CSOs, the media and youth organisations recently held in Lagos

A recent study has shown that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the world, representing 70 percent of all annual mortalities.

NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) sickle cell disease, diabetes, oral health and mental disorder.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), NCDs kill more than 36 million people each year as 82 per cent of all NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In a bid to curtail the occurrence, the WHO developed a global NCD action plan 2012-2020 and the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which set a target of 25 percent to reduce overall premature mortality from NCD by 2025 and reduce by 33 percent overall premature mortality from the NCDs and promote mental health and well-being by 2030.

Several studies have shown that the rise of NCDs in Nigeria is driven primarily by four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.

NCDs have been identified as major setback for the development of the nation as it entrench the country in poverty due to catastrophic expenditures for treatment and also having large impact on undercutting productivity.

In a bid to address the issues, the Nigerian NCD Alliance, with the drive to create a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life, free from preventable suffering, stigma, disability and death caused by NCDs has just concluded its two-day workshop to strengthen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) active in the field.

The workshop housed experts and CSOs who share the same goal of achieving universal healthcare delivery and reduction of avoidable deaths across the country.

President, Nigeria NCD Alliance, Dr. Sonny Kuku, said the essence of the workshop is to sensitise the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with goals related to NCDs to become advocates of the NCDs, outline their plans, what they think government should do and what the private sectors should so as to be able to meet the WHO target and get things right as a country.

He admitted that achieving global target of 25per cent lowering of premature death by 2025 will be very difficult because there are so many things that need to go into it. “We may not get the 25 per cent but we will get near it by 2025,” Kuku said.

Kuku pointed out that the major problem is that the diseases are very expensive to deal with, citing that as a body, pressure would be mount on the ministry so that the national insurance scheme must have special funding for NCDs.

The President continued: “There must be a very concerting effort, concrete plan to prevent these diseases and also make people aware. One of the ways is to integrate NCDs in the Primary Health Centres (PHC), fund these centres to have nurses, or pharmacists. If you diagnose diabetes and there is no money to treat it, you are in trouble and there are some areas that have to be free, management of cancer is very expensive, if you don’t make it free or close to free or you do not have health insurance scheme, it is a waste of time. Why Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevalence has gone so much down in developed counties, it is because the drugs are available, so if you use the same principles we will achieve the same result.”

Kuku added: “Today the government is represented, they are now more interested and we will use everything we have to ensure that government will buy in, buy in not only in terms of funding but put up polices to encourage our course.”

“I think we have made a lot of progress we are not there yet but with the way things are going, if we can sustain the NCD alliance and get the government buy in and get the CSOs to work together other than individuals then we are good to go in Achieving 2020 target reduction of maternal mortality by 25per cent,” he said.

Director/National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Diseases Division Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, said the NCD control programme was established in 1989 with the mandate to serve as the response point of NCDs to coordinate prevention, early diagnosis, control and formulation of policies and guidelines for NCDs…

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