African Health Ministers Announce New Strategy to Combat NCDs

With the burden of cardiovascular disease, mental and neurological disorders and diabetes rising in the region, African health ministers have endorsed a new strategy to boost access to the diagnosis, treatment and care, for severe non-communicable diseases.

The health ministers, gathering for the seventy-second session of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa in Lomé, Togo, adopted the strategy, known as PEN-PLUS.

That plan will be implemented as a regional strategy to address severe noncommunicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities. The strategy supports building the capacity of district hospitals and other first-level referral facilities to diagnose and manage severe non-communicable diseases.

Severe noncommunicable diseases are chronic conditions that lead to high levels of disability and death among children, adolescents, and young adults. In the worst cases, patients live no longer than a year after diagnosis. In Africa, the most prevalent severe noncommunicable diseases include sickle cell disease, Type 1 and insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, severe hypertension, and moderate to severe and persistent asthma, according to UN News.

InFocus

A health official conducting a diabetes test (file photo)

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