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Nigeria launches plan for NCD prevention and control

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Dr. Clement Peter
OiC, WHO Nigeria

ABUJA – Nigeria has launched its first National Multisectoral Action Plan (NNMSAP) for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country.

The Six year Action Plan from the period 2019 to 2025 was launched in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and key stakeholders to combat  major Non-Communicable Diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes.

Speaking at the launch, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Abdulahi explained that, Non-Communicable Diseases were gradually taking over from Communicable Diseases in public health significantly.

“NCDs are a major source of disease and death globally. In Nigeria, research by WHO in 2018 shows NCD prevalence to stand at 29%, Cardio vascular diseases at 11%, cancer 4% and diabetes 2%.” He further said, “The NCD NMSAP is therefore coming at a very appropriate time. We need to hit the ground running and ensure we eliminate NCDs as stated in the NMSAP between 2019-2025,”  he said.

The focus of the health sector in most countries had been almost exclusively on healthcare services. As NCD risk factors lie in sectors beyond health, the key strategy is to use a multisectoral approach.

While communicable diseases remain the primary cause of death in Nigeria, the country is currently facing an increase in the burden of NCDs with premature mortality from NCDs estimated at 22%. According to the 2018 WHO country profile, NCDs accounted for an estimated 29% of all deaths in Nigeria with cardiovascular diseases as the primary cause of NCD-related death (11%) followed by cancers (4%), chronic respiratory diseases (2%) and diabetes (1%). Other NCDs in Nigeria include Sickle Cell Disease, Deafness and Hearing loss, Blindness, Violence and Injury including Road Traffic Crashes, Oral Health including Noma and Disability.

As part of the activities lined up during the launch, the Resolve to Save Lives programme was flagged-off. This aims at strengthening the management of hypertension in Nigeria as well as conduct of STEPs survey to obtain nationally representative data on the prevalence of NCD risk factors including hypertension and sodium intake. The project will also support the establishment of sources of industrially produced Trans fatty Acid in the food supply.

In his remarks, Dr Clement Peter Lugala, the Officer in Charge (OiC), WHO Nigeria applauded the Government of Nigeria for the landmark achievement and said, “Getting multiple ministries from across Nigeria in one room to discuss NCDs in no small feat.

“The journey to beating NCDs should start with tackling the risk factors  of NCDs and promoting healthy lifestyles. We have a lot to do, but we need to work together. The NMSAP is not just about a conversation or a document, but it’s about ‘how we implement the plan’.

“I therefore call on the Government and all well-wishing partners to contribute aggressively to tackle NCDs in Nigeria. The United Nations through the WHO and implementing partners will continue to support the Government of Nigeria in the fight against NCDs.”

The programme will be implemented by WHO through the FMoH in partnership with other key stakeholders, including the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), State Ministries of Health (SMOH), State Primary Healthcare Development Agencies and other key stakeholders.

NCDs—mainly cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and Mental Health Disorders—are the world’s biggest killers and have now been termed “a silent epidemic”. Among these diseases, CVDs are the number 1 cause of death accounting for 17.5 million deaths annually with high blood pressure found to be the leading risk factor for CVDs. These diseases share common risk factors which are; tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution.

The launch of this new project was made possible thanks to the support of Resolve to Save Lives, a five-year campaign funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Resolve aims at saving 100 million lives by implementing proven solutions to prevent heart disease and stroke, the world’s leading cause of death.

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