By David Kipkorir @DavidKipkorir
A health expert has warned that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) will soon surpass communicable diseases if people do not take preventive measures.
Prof Gerald Yonga, Chair, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, East Africa during a public lecture at Aga Khan University said estimates indicate that NCDs currently account for a third of the disease burden.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that each year, 15 million people between 30-69 years of age die from NCDs globally, with over 85 per cent of the premature deaths occurring in Low Middle-Income countries.
“Currently, we are experiencing a situation where NCDs are on the rise while other diseases are declining. As a country, if we do nothing to curb the current situation, NCDs will be the largest killer disease by the year 2025,” said Prof Yonga.
The public lecture was organized by the Aga Khan University Medical College and School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa as part of the 60thanniversary of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi (AKUHN).
Currently, four conditions account for over 80 per cent of all premature NCDs deaths and they include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes. Majority of the cases are related to poverty, lack of early detection and treatment.
According to the STEPwise Survey the main risk factors for NCDs are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets due to the aggressive marketing and promotion especially to the younger generation.
“Being diagnosed with an NCD often means years of poor health and to combat this menace, both government, healthcare professionals and partners need to enhance health promotion programs towards reducing smoking and alcohol use, increase consumption of healthy diets, increase of physical activity and the overall reduction of environmental pollution,” added Prof Yonga.
In addition, Prof Yonga recommends that the health care system in Kenya needs to develop mechanisms to promote behavioral change and preventive care for NCDs through control of the risk factors, since behavioral change and preventive health is cost effective than curative health.
In Kenya, the government public expenditure on health has also remained below 10 per cent falling below the recommended 15 per cent as per the 2001 Abuja Declaration, an agreement by African Heads of State designed to improve the social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries by 2015.
“Sustainable financing of health should be one of the highest priorities to combat NCDs and healthcare professionals need to come together and actively engage with the government and decision makers to ensure an increase to the health budget allocation inline with the 2001 Abuja Declaration,” said Prof Yonga.
Prof Yonga also noted that globally, there are a lot of concerted efforts to address the rising burden of NCDs. This includes the Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020, with the intention of reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025 through nine voluntary global targets.
The 60thanniversary public lecture series for AKUHN seeks to recognize and celebrate the major transformation that occurred as the hospital moved from being a quality leading community hospital to becoming an Academic Health Centre. The public lecture series will run from October 2019 to February 2020.