By Chioma Obinna
Worried about the growing trend of hypertension, cancer, HIV, Sickle Cell Disease, and other Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs, among Nigerians, President of the NCD Alliance Nigeria, Dr. Sonny Kuku, says not less than 60,000 Nigerians die from these diseases annually.
Briefing journalists on the 3rd Global Week for Action on NCDs in Lagos, Kuku lamented that despite NCDs being a major cause of death globally and in Nigeria, the federal government had relegated these diseases.
Further, he observed that since the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs were adopted in 2015; more attention on NCDs has been a priority.
His words: “To reduce deaths from NCDs, World leaders have committed to a one-third reduction in deaths between 30 and 70 years of age from four key NCDs-cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.”
Kuku highlighted that accessing treatment and care for NCDs is pushing patients and their families into financial difficulty and as a result international focus on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“Nigeria’s commitment to Universal Health Coverage, UHC, has been symbolised by the passage of the National Health Act of 2014, which mandates the establishment of a Basic Health Care Provision Fund(BHCPF) to support the effective delivery of primary and secondary healthcare services through the provision of a Basic Minimum Package of Healthcare Services (BMPHS) and Emergency Medical Treatment (EMT)to al Nigerians.”
He further urged the government to wave import excise duties on pharmaceutical products for the treatment and management of NCDs.
Speaking on the weeklong activities to mark the Week in Nigeria, Kuku said there would be high-level advocacy meeting for accountability on NCDs in Nigeria.
“The approved activities for Nigeria include sensitisation and mobilisation of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of State Primary Healthcare Development Agencies (SPHCDAs) and State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIAs), Sensitisation of the political heads of the SPHCDAs and SSHIAs as well as the Speakers and Chairmen, Committee on Health of the States House of Assembly among others.
On his part, Vice President-Scientific Affairs NCD Alliance, Nigeria, Dr Kingsley Akinroye said that the trend of NCDs has gotten to its peak, hence, the need for government to take responsibility and subsidized treatment for Nigerians suffering from the diseases.
Akinroye urged President Mohammadu Buhari to recognise NCDs as killer diseases and also encourage the local manufacturing companies and professionals.
Akinroye further harped on the need to strengthen the Primary Health Care, PHCs, across the country to boost treatment for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension as well as guaranteed patients access to treatment.
“The group of people living with NCDs is on their own in this country that is why NCD Alliance Nigeria is focusing to get them together and let their voices be heard. When they talk as a group the government would listen and recognise them,” he said.