NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA Health NCDs will lead cause of mortality in Africa by 2030 if… – WHO

NCDs will lead cause of mortality in Africa by 2030 if… – WHO

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By Vivian Ihechu

 The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) will become the leading cause of mortality in Africa by 2030 if urgent measures are not executed by member states.

According to it, one of such measures is embracing and implementing the WHO PEN-Plus strategy.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, joining virtually, made the assertion on Tuesday at the opening of the first International Conference on PEN-Plus in Africa (ICPPA 2024) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The ICPPA 2024, holding from April 23 to April 25, is aimed at addressing severe NCDs in Africa.

It is being hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WHO’s PEN-Plus (Package of Essential NCD-Plus), is a regional integrated care delivery strategy to address severe noncommunicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities.

At the 2022 WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the African Region, the 47 Member States of the AFRO region voted to adopt the PEN-Plus strategy.

Moeti said: “We are faced with non-communicable diseases and data from low and middle income countries show that 26 per cent of total health spending was due to NCDs, second only to infectious and parasitic diseases.

“Meaning it is urgent to give these often overlooked diseases priority attention as Africa is severely affected and more than in any other place in the world.

“The surge in the burden of NCDs on our continent over the past two decades, is driven by increasing incidences of risk factors, such as unhealthy diets, reduced physical activity, obesity, and air pollution.

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“NCDs are set to overtake communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases combined as a leading cause of mortality in Africa by 2030. “And here, the NCDs are called silent epidemics.

“Unfortunately, this rapid devolution, with a higher mortality rate has not been recognised in the region, because we’re not investing adequately in detecting and lowering the burden of these diseases,” she said.

Moeti noted that severe NCDs like type one diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, and sickle cell disease more frequently affect children and young adults in the majority of Africans population.

She advised that Africa must show increased commitment in addressing NCDs with adequate and sustained resources.

She also said there was the need to strengthen accountability and assess the impact of interventions by enhancing surveillance and monitoring.

According to Moeti, this can be achieved using reliable and timely data at national and sub national levels to drive policy and action as we move forward.

Ms Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative to Republic of Tanzania, said that collaboration was at the heart of collective response to tackling NCDs.

“Today’s gathering underscores the urgency and importance of addressing NCDs comprehensively and collaboratively.

“The WHO package of essential non communicable  interventions for PEN, for primary healthcare and low resources settings, and the recently launched regional strategy on PEN-Plus provides a strategic framework  for tackling NCDs at their roots,” she said.

Also speaking, Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Tanzania, said that non communicable diseases NCDs, have become a formidable threat to the health and wellbeing of “our people’’.

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She urged for collective efforts to address these threats.

“They are silently affecting the lives of our citizens, our communities, undermining the progress we strive to achieve as a nation.

“The impact of these diseases extends beyond individual suffering.

“It affects our communities, our economy, and ultimately the future of our nations in our continent.

“Yet, in the face of these challenges, we are not discouraged together. We have chosen to confront these non-communicable diseases.’’

She urged for lifestyle change as positive way to combatting the negative outcomes of NCDs.

James Reid, Programme Officer for the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Programme, said he was happy at the level of interest and momentum in engagements to address NCDs, especially Type 2 diabetes.

He, however, identified finance as one of the biggest challenge and hindrance.

He said that while political leaders and stakeholders identify the challenges that NCDs pose, the strategies to prevent them, especially NCD care, were limited.

“Leadership for driving of PEN-Plus is very important to make sure that ministry of health leaders and all others involved, really understand how to change the dynamics as well as adopt solutions to suit specific localities,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that  WHO’s PEN-Plus (Package of Essential NCD-Plus), is a regional integrated care delivery strategy to address severe non-communicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities.

At the 2022 WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the African Region, the 47 Member States of the AFRO region voted to adopt the PEN-Plus strategy.

It is focused on alleviating the burden among the poorest children and young adults.

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This is by increasing the accessibility and quality of chronic care services for severe NCDs including Type 1 diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, and sickle cell disease.

NAN also reports that ICPPA 2024 provides opportunity to shore up international support for scaling up PEN-Plus in the African Region.

Also, the conference serves as a platform to raise awareness of severe NCDs, share lessons from countries implementing PEN-Plus and identify opportunities to strengthen NCD management.   (NAN)www.nannews.ng

Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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