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‘Emergency attention required to address NCDs in Africa’

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

Stakeholders have advocated strongly the need for an emergency attention to tackle the burden of the Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Africa.

The Call to Action to accelerate the NCDs Global Compact was made at the end of the inaugural annual International Conference on PEN-Plus Regional Strategy to Address Severe NCDs in Africa (ICPPA 2024), in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa in collaboration with the Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT), NCDI Poverty Network and their partners hosted the ICPPA2024.

It had the theme: “Prioritising Person-Centred Approach to Chronic and Severe NCDs: Type 1 Diabetes, Sickle Cell Disease, and Childhood Heart Diseases.”

Dr Hamad Nyenbea, Director, Curative Services, Ministry of Health, Tanzania, representing the Tanzanian Minister of Health, read the Call to Action.

“This statement is being read in the United Republic of Tanzania, with the participants at the first ever International Conference on PEN-Plus in Africa, held on 23rd to 25th of April, 2024 in the United Republic of Tanzania.

“We recognise the urgency of the rising burden of non-communicable diseases across our region.

“We are alarmed by the implications for their social and economic development across Africa, as its rising numbers of people under the age of 40 die unnecessary deaths.

“We advocate strongly for attention to the NCDs, chronic and severe, within existing systems, extending prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care to primary health care.

“Put people first. Promote synergies and ensure coordination and engagement of all stakeholders to be behind the goal of reducing premature mortality from NCDs, by 25 per cent while leaving no one behind.

“Also, enhance NCDs prevention efforts by scaling up effectiveness, effective public health intervention to address key modifiable risk factors.”

He said the urgency to attain this goal became imperative as the global NCDs deadline to beat NCDs by 2025 approaches.

“We remain committed to putting people first, promoting synergies and coordinating and engaging all stakeholders behind the goal, reducing premature mortality from NCDs by 25 per cent, while leaving no one behind.

“We commit to call on increasing coordination on the emergency presented by NCDs across our region. The premature loss of lives, at all stages of life cycle, and the grossly inequitable access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care.”

He noted that at a high-level United Nations General Assembly, some nine voluntary deadlines were set for the prevention and the control of NCDs.

These aim at achieving a 25 per cent relative reduction in the risk of premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases.

However, the call to action also noted that there had been significant progress in major indicators like life expectancy, under-five mortality rates and improved availability, coverage and utilization of health services.

But, in spite these achievements, inequities in service provisions still persist.

The call to action reminded governments, civil societies and other stakeholders that in September 2015, Sustainable Development Goals 3.4 spoke to the need by 2030 to reduce by one third, premature mortality from NCDs.

Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, WHO Representative, Tanzania, commended all who attended the event.

He urged all to ensure that NCDs do not engulf the coming generation because NCDs are real, ravaging people hence the need to tackle, and keep people at the centre of what we do, leaving no one behind.

The Package of Essential Non-communicable Diseases (PEN) – Plus, is a regional strategy to address severe NCDs at First-Level Referral Health Facilities in Africa.

The strategy urges countries to establish standardised programmes to combat chronic and serious NCDs to ensure that essential medicines, technologies and diagnostics are available and accessible at the primary health level.

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