By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos, Sept. 8, 2020 A civil society network, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Alliance Nigeria, says noncommunicable diseases accounted for 29 per cent deaths in Nigeria.
Dr Sonny Kuku, President of the organisation, made this known at the flag off of the Third Global Week for Action on NCDs in the country.
“Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) are the cause of 70 per cent of deaths globally, many of them are preventable and also carry heavy economic burden for countries, communities and families.
“Both the health and economic burdens of NCDs fall heaviest on low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Nigeria, making NCDs a major global health and developmental issues.
“However, NCDs have been overlooked by governments, but since 2015 when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted, there has been more attention on NCDs.
“In Nigeria, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for 29 per cent deaths in a population of 205,808,201 people,” Kuku said.
According to him, some of the actions taken to control NCDs include: launch of the First National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan for Prevention and Control of NCDs (2019-2025), publication of the Handbook on Civil Society Organisations in NCDs.
The president also said that world leaders were committed to a one-third reduction in deaths between 30 and 70 years of age from four key NCDs- cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes-by the year 2030.
“Other commitments to address NCDs and the risk factors (unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, and alcohol and tobacco use)- have been made at subsequent UN meetings of Heads of State in recent years.
“Since 2018, mental health and air pollution have been recognised as major global risk factors, while in Nigeria, Sickle Cell Disease is a major risk factor for NCDs.
“In spite of plans and commitments like above, unfortunately, more than half of the world’s countries are likely to miss the targets for SDG 3.4 by the year 2030. Nigeria is a signatory to the Global SDGs.
“SDG Three targets four seeks to reduce by one third mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment by 2030, while SDG Three target eight seeks to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” Kuku said.
According to him, accessing treatment and care for NCDs is pushing patients and their families into financial difficulty or to near bankruptcy.
Kuku said, as a result, the international focus on UHC, including financial risk protection, represented a significant opportunity for People Living with Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCDs), irrespective of where they live.
He said that 26 per cent of all countries did not have a multi-sectoral national NCD plan in place, and one-third of countries lack time-bound national NCD targets to drive and monitor progress, according to WHO’s NCD Progress Monitor.
Kuku, however, said that there were accountability success stories in few countries, especially in Caribbean where the Healthy Caribbean Coalition and its members conducted a benchmarking exercise of NCD commitments by governments.
The president called on the federal government to develop a strategic plan for internal and external accountability.
He said that the success stories in some countries gave impetus to the NCD Alliance to adopt the 2020 theme of the Third Global Week for Action on NCDs as Accountability.
Kuku said: “In this respect, the NCD Alliance Nigeria’s theme for 2020 is High level advocacy Meeting for Accountability on NCDs in Nigeria.
“The approved activities for Nigeria for 2020 include: Sensitisation and mobilization of the CEOs of State Primary Healthcare Development Agencies (SPHCDAs) and State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIAs) for participation in the 2020 Global Week for Action on NCDs.
“Sensitisation of the political heads of the SPHCDAs and SSHIAS (Chairmen of their governing boards) as well as the legislators (Speaker and Chairman, Committee on Health of the State House of Assembly).
“Organisation of a virtual meeting involving these key stakeholders and representatives/voices of PLWNCDs, NCDs Alliance Nigeria and development partners.”
Speaking, Dr Kingsley Akinroye, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, NCD Alliance Nigeria, said that the government must be accountable to reduce noncomminicable diseases-related deaths in Nigeria.
Akinroye said most of COVID-19 pandemic casualties in Nigeria, were people with heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, sickle cells, respiratory disease and even mental health.
“A big challenge and double burden.
“On the theme of accountability, we want to challenge our government to account for what they are doing on noncommunicable diseases.
“Drugs are too expensive to treat NCDs; what are we doing as a nation?
“Our government must be accountable. Our President must be accountable. Countries that have made progress are accountable. Government must listen to the voices of PLWNCD,” he said