African leaders have been tasked to prioritise the medical interventions in their respective countries in order to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases ravaging the continent.
This advice was given by the World health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, Rebecca Moeti, at the ongoing 68th session of the WHO/African Regional Organisation meeting holding in Dakar, Senegal.
The five-day meeting has in attendance health ministers from African countries, as well as participants from academia, donor agencies and the UN family.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are also known as chronic diseases that tend to be of long duration, which is as a result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors.
These include cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, hearts diseases, stroke pulmonary diseases, asthma and diabetes.
According to a press statement released by the Nigerian ministry of health on Tuesday, Ms Moeti said there is a need for African leaders to improve medical policies, strategies and facilities which would help the continent reduce the burden of the diseases.
She said Africa has the highest level of hypertension in the world as about 30 per cent of adults suffering from the disease are found in the continent.
According to her, with the growing trend of adult onset diabetes and obesity reaching epidemic proportion among women in sub-Saharan Africa and about 150, 000 deaths from tobacco related diseases, NCDs have become silent killers of Africans.
She said these diseases are preventable and urged Member States to intensify pursuit of some proven public health policies and strategies to address NCDs.
“Member States should increase taxation on tobacco and ban its advertising, have mandatory health warnings for tobacco products and alcohol, and most importantly,” they should engage other sectors such as trade that play such important role in this work.
In his reaction to the call, Nigeria’s health minister, Isaac Adewole, said the country is committed to tackling these diseases by implementing appropriate and effective policies and strategies.
Mr Adewole said in order to achieve this, the government is currently discussing with WHO on the conduct of a pilot project to treat all hypertensive people in Ogun and Yobe states.
Mr Adewole also added that the government would be restricting illicit tobacco trade and enforcing anti-tobacco legislations.