Tanzania: Non Communicable Diseases Alarm Govt

THE government has cautioned the public over increasing cases of Non Communicable Diseases (NDCs) in the country, calling upon the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) to direct more efforts in the area to reduce the burden on government and individual citizens.

Chief Medical Officer ( CMO) Prof Abel Makubi said that although NIMR had embarked on national survey on the diseases, it should focus more in the area to avoid posing additional burden to the government.

The CMO made the remark on Friday at the launch of NIMR 40th commemoration events held in Dar es Salaam.

He said that NDCs are on the rise thus they should be given priority because they have started to affect young generation.

Prof Makubi cited hypertension saying that the disease is also affecting youth who also develop more complications earlier such as kidney diseases and stroke.

Other diseases include diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

He added that the fight against NCDs also require behavior change thus there was a need of involving the society in order to win the war.

"We are all aware that NCDs are on the rise ... the ministry is aware of the contribution by NIMR in the area through its research which have helped to identify the magnitude of the problem in the country and risk factors," he said.

He added that the survey has helped in establishment of Non Communicable Diseases program which gave priority in the area.

NIMR Director General Prof Yunus Mgaya said NIMR has recorded tremendous achievements in health research over the last 40 years of its existence including government response to Non Communicable Diseases (NDC) which have become a growing health threat globally

He said that the national survey carried out by NIMR on NCDs helped to highlight the burden of the diseases including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases risk factors.

"The results of the study helped to inform the NCD strategic plan 2016/2020 and other government efforts to respond to NCD burden," he said.

He noted that other on- going NCD- related studies include the H3A diabetes study which document the prevalence and environmental and genetic determinant of type 2 diabetes in Sub Saharan Africa.

"This study will fill the knowledge gap of the causes or reasons for acquiring diabetes especially in Sub- Sharan Africa... this will guarantee much needed evidence on the types and subtypes of diabetes and generate evidence of specific drivers of diabetes," Prof Mgaya said.

He said that some other major achievements in research that had implications to policy and practice include studies on anti-malarial conducted at NIMR Amani and Tanga centres which contributed to the change of treatment of malaria from chloroquine to sulphadoxine - pyrimethamine( SP) and from SP to Artemether Combination Therapy ( ACT).

"This has resulted in improving malaria case management and ultimately reducing morbidity and mortality in Tanzania," Prof Mgaya added.

He further said that NIMR also contributed to improvements in HIV diagnosis and treatment through its study on reduction of early mortality among HIV-infected subjects starting antiretroviral therapy known as REMSTART trial.

Prof Mgaya said that the study revealed a new approach to manage patients with advanced HIV in Tanzania and Zambia.

He further said that NIMR Muhimbili centre also in collaboration with National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme has contributed to improved quality of the Central Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory and other TB laboratories in the country.

Prof Mgaya however said that in commemorating 40 - year milestone NIMR has planned a series of activities during the month of November to December this year which will be held at all NIMR centres and headquarters in the country.

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