14 August 2012

Zambia: Health Expert Calls for NCDS Fight

NON-COMMUNICABLE Diseases (NCDs) also known as chronic or long illnesses have been a silent killer and poses public health challenge globally.

They include heart diseases, hypertension, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, with heart diseases and strong being the major causes of death worldwide.

Risk factors include alcohol, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity, blood pressure, age, and sometimes heredatory.

NCDs are debilitating and often present with complications such as blindness, renal failure, gangrene which leads to amputation of the limbs and have adverse effects on the quality of life of affected individuals causing premature death that live families, communities and societies traumatised.

Zambia is among the countries in the world faced with many diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) that have a growing burden on NCDs.

Ministry of Health public health and research specialist, Nina Moonga said NCDs like hypertension, alcohol consumption and obesity account for more than 20 per cent deaths and 12 per cent of the disease burden in Zambia.

Ms Moonga said during a Ministry of Health media orientation workshop recently that Zambia was recording more cases of cervical and breast cancer among women and prostate cancer was a major health concern among men more than 40 years.

She said conditions related to the misuse of alcohol and smoking like mental health and trauma were of major concern in Zambia and affected different age groups although adults were at higher risk.

"Young people are being affected by diabetes and hypertension due to unhealthy diets and physical inactivity," she said.

The Government was aware of the increasing rates of NCDs and had committed to the prevention and control of epidemics through provision of quality and cost effective health care services.

Ms Moonga said health care facilities in Zambia provide screening services, early diagnosis, prevention, treatment and control of various diseases including NCDs which were complimented by health education to ensure people understood how to prevent such diseases and promote health life styles.

She, however, said there were challenges in preventing NCDs complications in those already affected.

Ms Moonga called for partnership in prevention of NCDs saying control of the epidemic was not the responsibility of the health sector alone

"Government is also committed to implementing the strategies outlined in the World Health Organisation on prevention and control of NCDs.

There were 1.6 billion people affected by NCDs worldwide and that out of the 64 million people would die in 2015, 41 million deaths would be as a result of such diseases if urgent action were not taken.

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