Tanzania: Seriously, Non Communicable Diseases Is a Grave Matter

Mike of the Uganda NCD Alliance leads a parade around the community in Kampala to raise awareness of NCDs.

ON Tuesday, the Tanzania media fraternity was shaken by the loss of two individuals who had their lives snuffed out the way a candle is blown out in a windy night.

According to family and friends, the two, Glory Mziray, the Tanzania Forestry Services Agency Public Relations officer and Timothy Kitundu, a veteran journalist, collapsed and died at separate times on the same day.

Speaking to local medical experts, they have on numerous times spread the alarm that NCDs are on the rise, claiming young and old lives with impunity every single day.

Globally there is evidence of the growing burden of Non Communicable diseases (NCDs) especially in developing countries including Tanzania.

The main risk factors for NCDs namely smoking, alcohol intake, unhealthy diet and low physical activity are prevalent in both rural and urban communities.

There are initiatives to control the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country. However, there is need to focus more on primary prevention at population level targeting interventions to reduce exposure to tobacco, reduce alcohol intake, reduce salt intake, promote healthy diets and physical activity.

Historically, acute illnesses have been the most important health problems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, there is growing evidence that the burden of chronic diseases (CDs), in particular that of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), is increasing rapidly in the country.

The World Health Organisation estimates that deaths from NCDs in the African region will increase by 27 percent by the year 2030, which is 28 million additional deaths. In Tanzania, at least 31 percent of all deaths have been associated to NCDs, with the main killers identified as Cardiovascular Diseases at nine percent and Cancers at five percent.

According to latest estimates at Dar es Salaam Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Tanzania registers around 50,000 new cases of cancer every year. But the country's largest cancer referral hospital can only handle 5,000 patients. Cancer is just a fraction of the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.

For the country to stay healthy, change of lifestyle should be encouraged and this should start from family level.

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