Non-communicable diseases take center stage

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12-9-2011
By  Gabi Khumalo

Boksburg - As South Africa begins to deal more effectively with HIV/Aids and TB, care and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become more important.

"In Africa, NCDs are anticipated to overtake mortality from all other diseases (combined) by 2030. Globally, deaths due to NCDs are projected to increase by 17% over the next 10 years, but the greatest increase (24%) is expected in the African region," Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said, warning that other aspects of life will suffer when NCDs start to grow.

Currently, NCDs cause 60% of all deaths; 80% of them occur in developing countries. Around a quarter of them occur in people under the age of 60 and it is estimated that by 2030, NCDs will contribute 75% of global deaths.

Speaking at the NCDs Summit on Monday, Motsoaledi said in order to beat NCDs, the country needed to focus on four particular areas, including information and research, prevention through intersectoral and personal efforts, better screening and ensuring better management and control of NCDs.

The aim of the two-day summit is for the department to partner with key stakeholders in developing strategies and plans to improve health in South Africa. It is expected to present and assess the evidence on prevention and control of NCDs and attempt to build consensus, partnerships and a path for moving forward.

A concerned Motsoaledi noted that while it is possible to prevent NCDs, globalisation, industrialisation, urbanisation and the motivation of profit, often escalate the prevalence of NCDs.

"Inadequate knowledge about how environmental and behavioural factors are causing NCDs amongst much of the population also allows NCDs to grow at unprecedented rates."

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, warned that if the majority of people are sick, the country must forget about achieving the MDGs. 

"We need to ensure that the NCDs don't reach the [level] of HIV and Aids. We need to stop them on their trail now... We [South Africa] have a track record of being successful," said Ramokgopa.

The country's First Lady Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, who is an advocate on promoting the health and quality of lives of especially rural and disadvantaged women, said the summit represents a commitment by the Health Department to ensure that the women are supported to live healthy lifestyles. In turn, they will be able to fulfill their functions as the cornerstone of their families, communities and now to an increasing extent, the economy. 

"This summit also represents hope that government, together with the many sectors represented at this summit, will help ease the burden of pain, unnecessary suffering and premature death of our women who experience many diseases," said Madiba-Zuma.

The summit comes a week before the UN High Level Meeting of Heads of States on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, which takes place in New York from 19 to 20 September 2011, where President Jacob Zuma will be leading a South African delegation. - BuaNews

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