May 26, 2009, 5:07 AM
The West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Nutrition Agency (NANA) over the weekend ended a four-day regional development workshop of a policy on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Executive Director General of the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr. Placido Cardoso expressed gratitude to The Gambia for hosting its second workshop on the development of integrated and multi-sectoral policies for the control of NCDs in ECOWAS. He said that non-communicable diseases account for approximately 60% of deaths worldwide.
According to him, the global health council in 2008 stated that 7.8 million people died from cancer more than AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis combined together.
Stating that 70% of cancer deaths mostly occurred in the low and middle income countries, he said, it contributes to poverty in the low and middle income countries as long-term illness can cause a family serious financial difficulty.
"If nothing is done to address the problem of premature deaths, it is estimated that NCDs could increase by 24% in Africa by the year 2015," he said.
Lamenting that global health community grips the fact that the burden of non-communicable diseases is growing in both developed and developing countries, he said, the effective prevention and control of the NCDs will require innovative strategies, increased awareness, sheared knowledge and a multi-sectoral approach globally. He noted that WAHO will present a resolution at the 11th Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS in April 2010 to strengthen advocacy work.
In his remarks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in The Gambia Thomas Sukwa said that NCDs and injuries are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality world wide and represent a growing public problem in Africa. He said that in 2005, 60% of the total 58 million deaths worldwide were due to NCDs, with 80% occurring in low and middle income countries, including Africa.
He added that cardio vascular diseases resulting in complications such as stroke, cardiac and renal failure and their consequences and cycle of ill health and poverty are increasing because of exposure to behavioural risk factors, mainly tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.
Also speaking at the opening, the Minister of Health, Dr. Abubacarr Gaye said that through the joint efforts of all the parties, the integrated policy and action plan development will definitely yield significant results in the operations and interventions for NCDs prevention and control in the sub-region.
He stated that decades ago, the main causes of morbidity and mortality in many countries were communicable diseases, infestation and poor nutrition. Dr. Gaye added that the effective fight against NCDs calls for better co-ordination among partners and stakeholders from all sectors of development.