SENEGAL, Dakar 29th August, 2018.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti has called on African countries to robustly fight Non
Communicable Diseases (NCDs) because the diseases are silently killing Africans from all walks of life – yet are entirely preventable. Dr. Moeti said the continent has the highest levels of hypertension in the world – about 30% of adults suffer from high blood pressure – and approximately 150 000 adults die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
“The epidemiological transition is a reality on our continent, and Non-communicable diseases are silently killing Africans from all walks of life – yet are entirely preventable,” Dr Moeti said this yesterday during the opening ceremony of the 68th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa. She said there is a growing trend of adult-onset diabetes, and obesity is reaching widespread proportions among women in Southern Africa.
Dr Moeti said proven public health policies exist such as increased taxation, banning advertising, having mandatory health warnings for tobacco products and alcohol, and most importantly engaging other sectors such as trade that play such an important role in this work. In Zambia, the Government has adopted the Health in All Policy strategy, an approach on health-related rights and obligations. The policy improves accountability of policymakers for health impacts at all levels of policy-making. It includes an emphasis on the consequences of public policies on health systems, determinants of health, and well-being. It also contributes to sustainable development.
Government has approved implementation of a national alcohol policy meant to curb alcohol abuse which is one of the key drivers of NCDs. Tobacco has also remained one of the greatest public health threats the world is currently facing and that countries must find lasting solutions to the problem.Zambia is keen to ensure that the country domesticates the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and it is in the process of formulating a comprehensive tobacco and nicotine inhalants products control law which will support the obligations contained in the WHO convention. Government is considering introducing laws to regulate the value chain from the manufacturers, sale, packaging and labeling, advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products and devices and their use in public and workplaces.
Dr Moeti said NCDs should become a priority in the prevention and fighting diseases. She urged member states to take deliberate and sustained actions to address these risk factors. On the other hand, Dr Moeti said it is gratifying that for the first time, NCDs will feature as a High Level meeting at the UN General Assembly next month, and she expects this momentum to translate into action at primary health care level in countries.
On public health security, Dr Moeti said the capacity to deal with outbreaks and public health emergencies is a big concern in Africa. She said after declaring the most complex outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo over on 24 July, the country faced an even higher risk outbreak in the north-east barely a week later. Dr Moeti, however, thanked all partners for their tremendous contributions to the joint efforts to support the country’s response; indeed, WHO cannot do this support alone. “I acknowledge the dedication of all who responded to this crisis, and to these outbreaks, the exceptional role of survivors who engaged their communities. I especially remember the health workers who lost their lives to Ebola in service to others, and…also those who lost
their lives in health security. Indeed, the mother of a baby died….
WHO worked closely with Member States and partners to contain more than 130 outbreaks and emergencies in 35 countries over the past year in our Region, including viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Lassa fever; plague, cholera and meningitis.” Dr Moeti said the capacity to deploy over 1100 public health experts, rapid and effective response to these public health events working with partners, and coordinating with partners and the Transformation Agenda, demonstrates that WHO’s reformed Health Emergencies Programme are working.
She, however, noted some gaps in rapid detection, reporting and control of outbreaks – but Member States are increasingly committed to strengthening preparedness and response to emergencies.
Ministry of Health