WHO advocates physical activities to tackle NCDs in Nigeria

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged Nigerians to engage in more physical activities to reduce Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) burden in the country.

The WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, while speaking during a walk in Abuja on Saturday, said the rates of NCD will drop if people engage in regular exercises.

“The significance of the walk is to raise awareness and remind Nigerians to be active to reduce the burden of NCDs through physical activities,” he said.

Mr Mulombo said this is an opportunity to get everybody on board to beat the burden of these diseases which he noted are on the increase.

The event tagged; “Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge,” was organised in collaboration with Nigeria’s federal ministry of health, and other partners.

Mr Mulombo said the event marks the beginning of activities of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which commenced in Geneva on Sunday.

The theme for the 75th WHA is “Health for Peace, and Peace for Health.” Peace is at the centre of everything people do and without peace, there’s no health,” he said.

Non-communicable diseases

NCDs account for about 71 per cent of the 57 million deaths reported around the world every year. Most of these deaths are caused by diabetes, cancers, heart and lung diseases. Over 85 per cent of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

These diseases are, to some extent, preventable and manageable. But it is estimated that by 2030 they will cause 75 per cent more deaths than malnutrition and infectious diseases.

The rapid rise in NCDs has become a public health challenge globally, especially for developing countries like Nigeria. This is because it is increasingly putting a strain on the health system.

Although there are no official statistics for the burden of NCDs in Nigeria, WHO NCD 2016 country profile estimated that NCDs cause approximately 617,300 deaths, representing 29 per cent of total deaths in the country.

Out of these, diabetes accounted for two per cent; cancer, four per cent; injuries, eight per cent, and cardiovascular diseases, 11 per cent.

The report also stated that premature death in the country (between 30 and 70 years) due to NCDs is 22 per cent.

Some of the major NCDs in Nigeria include cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Others include cancer, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia, chronic respiratory diseases, mental illness, neurological and substance use disorders, road traffic injuries, and oral health disorders.

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