Curbing the chronic disease crisis in Africa
To stem the chronic disease crisis in Africa, Africa’s health ministers have called for the diagnosis and treatment of severe non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in hospitals and first-level referral facilities in areas where care is often unavailable today. Adopted a new regional strategy to improve.
Ministers and government officials also launch a campaign to tackle sickle cell disease, agree healthcare reforms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and fight tuberculosis among African children at the 72nd WHO regional conference agreed on the new measures necessary to Africa Commission this week.
New regional strategies for NCDs include: Pen Plus. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are responsible for nearly 70% of premature deaths worldwide, with premature death rates rising rapidly in Africa.
Additionally, African countries face a particular burden from sickle cell disease, which if left untreated can cause severe anemia and premature death.
In Africa, mortality from NCDs increased from 24% of all premature deaths in 2000 to more than 37% in 2019. Treating her severe NCDs at a tertiary care facility, a large hospital, in a big city.
This places care out of reach of rural and poor patients who typically rely on local hospitals and community health centers that lack the capacity and resources to effectively manage severe NCDs. WHO says.
Only 36% of countries stock basic NCD drugs in public hospitals
pen plus WHO working with African health ministers Over the past two years, WHO has developed a roadmap for countries to develop standardized programs to tackle chronic and severe NCDs by making essential medicines, technologies and diagnostics available in local hospitals. It offers.
It also encourages African governments to improve training and treatment protocols for chronic NCDs and to ensure that people in private hospitals have access to services for severe NCDs.
According to WHO, only 36% of countries in the African region currently have public hospitals with the medicines needed to treat NCDs, and private hospitals should also provide such services.
Liberia, Malawi and Rwanda, where this strategy has already been rolled out, have seen significant increases in the health status and number of patients undergoing treatment for severe NCDs, WHO said.
According to WHO data, the most prevalent NCDs in Africa include type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, asthma, and the genetic disease sickle cell disease.
New campaign on sickle cell disease
In connection with the movement against NCDs, the Minister of Health also launched a campaign to It tackles sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that, if left untreated, causes anemia and shortens life.
is more than 66% of the world’s 120 million people Africa is home to people affected by sickle cell disease, and about 1,000 African children are born with the disease every day.
Number of deaths from sickle cell disease in the African region in 2019 rose to 38,403 — A 26% increase from 2000.
According to WHO, this increasing burden of disease is due to a lack of investment in disease control tools such as prevention, early detection and appropriate care. Also, levels of care are hampered by inadequate staffing and services, especially in low-level facilities.
The campaign aims to strengthen political will, engagement and financial resources for sickle cell prevention and control across the region.
It leverages financial support and resources from the World Bank, US Department of Health and Human Services, Novartis Foundation, Global Blood Therapeutics, and Sickle in Africa Consortium.
Primary targets are schools, communities, healthcare organizations, and the press.
WHO notes that progress in disease control in Africa has been hampered by lack of newborn screening programs and surveillance, lack of accurate and reliable data on sickle cell disease, and lack of sickle cell data collection in most national surveys. points out that it is impeded.
“We need to put this disease in the spotlight and help improve the quality of life of people living with it,” said Dr Masidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Renewing Africa’s healthcare system in the wake of the pandemic
At the conference, countries also agreed to introduce other reforms to their local health systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a greater focus on better disease surveillance, prevention and vaccination.
“Domestic investments in health, including health research, drive resilience and sustainability while yielding significant economic returns. A healthy population leads to a healthy economy,” said Moeti.
Senegal’s Health Minister Dr Marie Kemese Ngom Ndiaye said the pandemic has made her country’s health system more focused on resilience and investment.
This has “greatly enhanced our ability to prevent and manage disease,” she said.
fighting tuberculosis in children
As for communicable diseases, a major focus of Africa’s health programs, more comprehensive and rapid measures are needed to combat tuberculosis among African children, WHO and African Union representatives said at the conference. said in Their comments were echoed by the Stop TB Partnership and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).
Current, two-thirds of children Tuberculosis patients in the WHO’s African Region go undiagnosed for the disease, putting them at increased risk of rapid disease progression and death, especially in younger children, WHO said.
Of children under five years of age who are thought to have tuberculosis, only 32% are diagnosed and treated in the African region.
Seventeen of the 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world are in Africa, affecting 322,000 children and young people under the age of 15.
“There is an urgent need for innovative interventions to integrate tuberculosis diagnosis into nutrition programs to rapidly identify illness in children,” said Minata Samate, African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development. Sesma said.
“Children with tuberculosis rarely spread the disease and are always infected by adults,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership.
Every two minutes a child dies of tuberculosis somewhere in the world, and tuberculosis is both treatable and preventable. .
Addressing Malawi’s Cholera Outbreak
At the meeting, WHO and UNICEF also announced a joint plan to strengthen efforts to contain the cholera outbreak recently announced in Malawi.
the outbreak is 1,483 cases and 58 deaths In northern and central regions, it affects lakeside communities and congested urban areas with inadequate water and sanitation.
UN agencies have said they will step up surveillance for early detection and control. Improve the quality of case management in cholera treatment units. Provides critical supplies needed to manage cholera cases.
They also plan to help improve water treatment, personal hygiene, and domestic water storage.
WHO Country Representative in Malawi Dr Neema Rusivamayla Kimambo emphasized that all deaths from cholera are preventable.
The United Nations Health Organization will provide additional support to Malawi’s Ministry of Health to “help ensure that lives are saved and resilient health systems are maintained during and after the current outbreak,” Kimambo said. said Mr.
UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenck said there was an urgent need to help Malawi’s already overburdened public health services and healthcare delivery system.
“The good news is we know the solution,” says Schwenk. “We are providing humanitarian assistance in the affected districts, but we need more help to scale up the response.”
Image credits: WHO, NCD Alliance, Twitter/Matshidiso Moeti, Twitter/WHO AFRO.
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