By Chioma Obinna
Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Nigeria has raised alarm over increasing cases of Non-Communicable Diseases among Nigerians expressing fears that trauma may overtake major NCDs like Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and Cancer if urgent measures are not taking to reduce the rate of violence across the country.
They also expressed worry that the Nigerian government is yet to implement policies against the four major risk factors for the World Health Organisations four main global NCDs, popularly known as four by four.
They identified weak surveillance, inadequate funding for NCDs control and prevention, lack of policies/strategic plan of action for risk factors among others as constraints hindering effective tackling of the diseases.
Members of the Alliance, who took turns to present papers on the various NCDs, including cancer, stroke, sickle cell anaemia, maternal and child mortality among others during a Plenary Session On Advocacy tools for CSOs in NCDs, Primary Health Care Centres and Media Houses in Lagos said there is need to entrench activities towards prevention and control of diseases at all strata – globally, nationally and at community levels.
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In his submission, President of the NCD Alliance Nigeria, Dr. Sonny Kuku who noted that the NCD Alliance Nigeria has played pivotal roles in the past in providing leadership for coordinated action and a united voice on the prevention of NCDs in Nigeria regretted that the major NCDs has moved from the global four to five in Nigeria due to environmental pollution with the addition of Trauma, Sickle cell anemia, and stroke.
According to him, NCDs has provided a platform for a nationwide alliance for the Nigerian Cancer Society, Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Heart Foundation and the Nigerian Thoracic Society, with an aim to providing a united mechanism for a framework within which the different actors can plan, act together and ensure that Nigerians enjoy a good quality of life free from NCDs and their adverse effects.
Kuku posited that this can be achieved through effective advocacy and awareness Programmes organised by relevant Stakeholders, recalling that in pursuit of this aim, NCD Alliance Nigeria earlier in Abuja organised a workshop aimed at developing effective advocacy strategies for NCDs Civil Society Organisations.
In his presentation on the four disorders and risk factors, the Executive Director, Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye who listed unhealthy, Physical inactivity, Tobacco, Harmful use of alcohol and overweight and obesity as part of the factors to be addressed regretted that growing fast food which contains high in salt and sugar has made it impossible to tackle the problem. “Physical inactivity is also the least addressed. It is unaddressed because the environment is not good for physical activity. Tobacco remains a problem in terms of policy implementations because of many of the states are not implementing the tobacco law.”
He regretted that almost 6 percent of Nigerian adult s (from ages 15 and above) is categorized as smokers.
“If put in figures are more than 4 million, and smoking in the youths are more than adults. Harmful use of alcohol is also a very serious risk factor. The prevalence is about 35 per cent and it is more in men than women. Overweight and obesity is climbing up in the population and the presence of cholesterol high in the population. It is also about 40 percent in the population,” he stated.
On her part, Prof Ifeoma Okoye on her presentation on cancer urged Nigerians to reduce the fear of cancer and go for regular screening, adding that about 26 Nigerian women are still dying of cervical cancer daily.