Mwanza – Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. Of all NCD deaths, 77% are in low- and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases account for most these deaths (17.9 million people annually), followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes). These statistics are alarming, but the good news is that we know how to prevent NCDs and how to manage them. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted that action on NCDs is urgent and critical to protect our people from the death and disability wrought by NCDs.
During the week of 5 – 12 November 2022, Tanzania commemorated the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) week, seeking to ensure NCDs prevention and care get the attention and action they deserve, everywhere, for everyone. Nationally commemorated in Mwanza region under the theme “Change your lifestyle for better health” , the week gathered people from all walks of life to calling for investment in prevention and wider access to care.
A number of events were organized during the week including health education on nutrition and mental health, screening for hypertension and diabetes, exhibitions, sports competitions and COVID-19 vaccination services.
“Those with urgent conditions were directly referred to the regional referral hospital for extended medical attention and follow up,” said Prof. Paschal Ruggajo, the Director of Curative Services in the Ministry of Health at the closing ceremony on 12th November.
Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Administrative Secretary for Mwanza region, Mr. Balandya Elikana emphasized annual health checking for everyone aged 40 years and above to facilitate early detection of symptoms.
“Non-communicable diseases must be adopted as an agenda in each meeting of the government in all sectors and all levels,” added Mr. Balandya.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services and Community Development Committee, Honourable Fatma Tawfique underscored the importance of roads and streets to allow safety for walking and running.
“I am sure that if we our streets and roads have safe space for running and walking, we will make progress in the prevention of non-communicable diseases,” she said.
Dr. Anthony Kazoka, while presenting remarks on behalf of the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Yoti, Zabulon, emphasized on the need to ensure equitable access to NCD services. “WHO’s concern now, is the variation in treatment availability between countries of different income levels. Comprehensive cancer treatment for example is available in more than 90% of high-income countries but in less than 15% of low-income countries”. The national expenditures for non-communicable diseases between 2016 and 2020 showed a 14% increase, indicating a growing burden of NCDs in the country, as evidenced by the increased mortality from diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
On behalf of the organization, Dr. Kazoka commended the Government of Tanzania for the on-going efforts and political will to address NCDs. He reiterated WHO’s commitment to continue working with the Government and partners to accelerate coordinated and multisectoral action needed to prevent and control NCDs in the country.
WHO received an award of appreciation for the technical and financial support that made the colourful commemorations successful.