As the world marked the 2020 Global week for action on NCDs, which held between 7th – 13th of September 2020, three Nigerian organisations, member organisations of the Global NCD alliance; Healthify Africa, Health Proactivists Initiative, and CHRONmate ensured Nigerians were not left out. They spearheaded the #ActOnNCDs Naija campaign. The global theme for this year was: Accountability.
These organisations raised their voices in unison to push Nigerians to act on Non- communicable diseases at all levels starting with the individual right up to the government levels.
Noncommunicable diseases – NCDs like Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Cancers, Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are the number one cause of death and disability in the world despite the fact that many NCDs are preventable. In our society, these diseases are driven largely by five risk factors – unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol and air pollution. These are further exacerbated by weak health systems, underinvestment, and lack of multisectoral accountability especially in Low and Middle-Income Countries like Nigeria.
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Dr Imadojiemu Marietta, Founder of Health Proactivists Initiative mentioned that Nigeria is currently facing a double burden of diseases and NCDs are stealing breadwinners of Nigerian families prematurely. According to the WHO country profile (2018), these conditions accounted for 29% of all deaths in the Country. Her realization that failure to act will result in the death of 28 million more Africans by 2030 as estimated by WHO, which is a motivating factor for her and the co-leads of the project.
Dr Lynda Odoh- Anikwe, Founder of Healthify Africa emphasized the roles workplaces, schools, Families, religious bodies, rural leaders, recreational centres and food entrepreneurs can play to become Enablers of a healthy lifestyle for Nigerians.
Eseosa Iyagbaye, Founder Chronmate, expressed her concern in involving more youth in driving Nigeria towards being NCD free. As Dr Christophe Ngedahayo, Co-lead of WHO Civil society working for the group on NCDs, who was a speaker during the campaign Tweetchat puts it, “Youth form a foundation for a transition into an NCD-free world”. Toyyib Oladimeji Abdulkareem, Campaign assistant, a global week for action on NCDs, NCD Alliance, Geneva, Switzerland, also emphasized that youth must be willing to learn what policies exist already, so as to understand better the way forward. This, he explained, will help them pitch their recommendations to the government in a logical manner and increase the chances of these changes being considered.
In summary, some of the main points of the campaign for the public include the following;
– Take active steps to choose healthier meals and engage in physical activity at least 30minutes a day for 5 days every week
– Do annual health checks and not wait until an emergency before visiting a health facility
– Know your numbers: Blood pressure, Blood sugar, lipid profile, BMI numbers. Proactively screen for cancers like Cervical, breast, prostate, and colon cancer, which have become some of the biggest killers of globally
– Adherence to medications and lifestyle modification if one already has any of the NCDs
– Proper implementation of the Federal Ministry of Health’s Multisectoral action plan for NCDs by 2025, while making sure no Nigerian is left behind
– Exclusive breastfeeding for newborn, as this protects them even till adulthood
– Parents should model healthy eating habits and physical activity routines for their children to follow
– Having a grocery list that captures healthy choices for the family. As, Adeola adeleye (RD), Founder, askddietitian, and one of the Panelists of the accountability roundtable, puts it, “If you don’t buy it, you will not eat it”
For Civil society organizations
Tolulope Osigbesan, Advocacy, and Partnerships officer, NCD alliance, Geneva urged Civil society organisations to not only ask their government to be accountable but to also, periodically subject themselves to the accountability test.
This will help ensure that everyone is on track using the most cost-effective methods to get impactful results.
The Campaign had over 100 youth supporters and reached out to over 200, 000 people.
So fresh Ng, Nigeria’s pioneer healthy food chain even supported the campaign by offering a discount over the weekend on some of the healthy yummy treats on their menu.
The hope is that in the near future, with continuous efforts from all stakeholders, deaths from NCDs will be drastically reduced among Nigerians