Martins Ifijeh

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on member countries, including Nigeria to prioritise the eradication of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDS) in their various regions, as the preventable disease was silently killing Africans from all walks of life.

The call was made by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Rebecca Moeti at the 68th session of the WHO\AFRO meeting in Dakar, Senegal, which is currently ongoing.

She lamented that the region has the highest level of hypertension in the world with about 30 per cent of adults suffering from the disease.

She said: “Similarly, growing trend of adult onset of diabetes and obesity reaching epidemic proportions among women in sub-Saharan Africa, and about 150, 00 deaths from tobacco related diseases have been recorded.

“I therefore urge member states to intensify pursuit of some proven public health policies and strategies to address the NCDs such as increased taxation, banning advertising, having mandatory health warnings for tobacco co-products and alcohol, and most importantly engaging other sectors such as trade that play such important role in this work.”

Reacting to the call, Nigerian Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said Nigeria was committed to tackling these group of diseases by implementing appropriate and effective policies and strategies.

“A lot has been achieved in restricting illicit tobacco trade and enforcing anti-tobacco legislations. I can assure you that with the implementation of the Step Survey, we would be able to accurately determine the burden of NCD in Nigeria.”

Nigeria, he added was currently discussing with WHO on the conduct of a pilot project to treat all hypertensive persons in Ogun and Yobe States, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s support to the health sector was unprecedented and would ensure the attainment of Universal Health Coverage.

Speaking earlier, the Director General, WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, advocated for unity among all the actors, from across governments and across UN family, with a call for all to leverage on their collective strength.