…Nigeria up to the task, says Adewole
The 68th session of the World Health Organisation/ Africa Region, WHO/AFRO, meeting held in Dakar, Senegal with a call on all Member states to prioritise Non- Communicable Diseases, NCDs.
The NCDs in question include diabetes, cancer, High Blood Pressure, obesity, etc., that are silently killing Africans from all walks of life, yet are entirely preventable. According to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Rebecca Moeti, the African region has the highest level of hypertension cases in the world, with about 30 percent of adults suffering from the diseases. Similarly, a growing trend of adult onset of diabetes and obesity reaching epidemic proportions among women in Sub-Saharan Africa, and about 150,000 deaths from tobacco-related diseases have been recorded. Moeti, who urged Member States to intensify pursuit of some proven public health policies and strategies to address the NCDs, urged for measures including: increased taxation, banning advertising, and having mandatory health warnings for tobacco products and alcohol. Most importantly she called for engaging other sectors such as Trade that play such important role in the work at hand. In a response, Nigeria’s Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole, however assured that Nigeria is committed to tackling the group of diseases by implementing appropriate and effective policies and strategies. According to Adewole, a lot has been achieved since the restriction of illicit tobacco trade and enforcing anti-tobacco legislation. He assured that, with the implementation of the Step Survey, Nigeria would be able to accurately determine the burden of NCDs. Adewole stated that Nigeria is currently discussing with the WHO on the conduct of a pilot project to treat all hypertensive patients in Ogun and Yobe States. “President Muhammadu Buhari’s support to the health sector is unprecedented and this administration would ensure the attainment of Universal Health Coverage,” the Minister avowed. In his own contribution, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, advocated for unity among all the actors, from across governments and across the UN family, with a call for all to leverage on their collective strengths.