At a recent launch of the national multi-sectoral strategy on the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said she had been informed that 53% of deaths in Namibia are due to these kind of sicknesses.
NCDs are medical conditions or diseases not caused by infectious agents and they include heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
In Namibia the most common of these are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancers and chronic obstructive airway diseases, said the PM.
Said the PM, “Apart from the increasing deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases, Namibia is said to have one of the highest prevalence of high blood pressure in the region.”
“Almost one in five Namibian adults is obese due to consumption of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles. Further, the country’s total per capita consumption of alcohol stands at 10.8 litres, again making it one of the highest in the SADC region.”
“Namibia is also recorded to have the highest rate of tobacco use at 19 percent for men from the age of 21 and 5 percent for women around the age of 34 years.”
With this increasing prevalence of risk factors in our country, the PM said expectations are such that the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases will rise over the years on the economy and robbing the country of its productive people, if nothing concrete is done.
“These socio-economic costs associated with Non-Communicable Diseases make the prevention and control of these diseases a major developmental priority for Namibia.”
“There is, thus, a need to support national initiatives and prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases through the promotion and adoption of healthier lifestyles in our communities,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, deputy health minister, Juliet Kavetuna said 71% of deaths occurring each year globally are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs)which account for 41 million lives lost.
Kavetuna said the global NCDs crisis is the major challenge posed to public health and sustainable human development progress and has called on the nation to respond to NCDs via detection, screening and treatment.
“Managing NCDs, for example is expensive and strains already overburdened health systems, by diverting scarce resources from other important development priorities.”
“The drivers of NCDs are also developmental in nature. The key is the behavioural risk factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity which are strongly determined by broader social, legal and environmental factors, for example the concentration of alcohol advertising, the absence of parks and lack of jogging and cycling spaces in our towns,” she said.
Kavetuna said almost three quarters of all NCD deaths, 82% of the 16 million who died prematurely or before reaching the age of 70 years, occur in low and middle income countries, of which Namibia is classified as the latter.
Meanwhile, the five-year strategic plan calls for a deliberate “multi- sectoral” and “whole of government approach” to Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control interventions.
The PM said it also aims to address the unhealthy behaviors on things like tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the misuse of alcohol and harmful substances.
“The plan further demonstrates Government’s commitment to reducing the current Non- Communicable Diseases burdens through cooperative efforts among various stakeholders in the country,” she added.