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OneWellness October 24, 2022

The Epidemic Of Non-Communicable Diseases

Medically Reviewed by Adeola Alli

Written by Chioma Chukwunedu

Did you know?

That 70% of all the deaths in the world result from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Non-communicable diseases are diseases that cannot be transmitted directly from one person to another. Hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, asthma, arthritis, some cancers, and chronic kidney diseases, are all examples of non-communicable diseases. These diseases kill people between the ages of 30-69 years and are called premature deaths. 85% of these premature deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

In 2019, 55 million people died and 41 million of these deaths are from non-communicable diseases. Globally, cardiovascular diseases account for 31% of deaths, cancers account for 16%, chronic respiratory diseases 7%, Diabetes 3%, other non-communicable diseases account for 15%, and injuries 9%, while communicable diseases, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions account for 20%. 75% of all the deaths come from low and middle-income countries like Nigeria.

“Did you know? That 70% of all the deaths in the world result from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).“

The World Health Organization defines an epidemic as an unexpected increase in the number of disease cases in a specific geographical area. Recently, the rates of non-communicable diseases are clearly above the usual occurrence in Nigeria. Given that these diseases impact both the young and the old, this development has prompted an urgent need for attention and research.

It has been established that the major reasons NCDs have increased in Africa are attributed to unhealthy behaviors such as an increase in tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking, and alcohol use. Environmental factors such as poor housing, low income, poor living and working conditions, stress, etc also contribute to the increase of NCDs in Africa. These factors have led to conditions such as overweight/obesity, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels.

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Every African knows at least one person living with a non-communicable disease. It is either a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor. This epidemic of non-communicable diseases has become a burden. NCDs also cause disabilities and sensory impairments in addition to ill health. The ill health of patients poses a socio-economic, physical, mental, and psychological burden on the individuals affected. Families and friends of patients are also burdened financially. Resources and time are often the sacrifices they have to pay to care for these patients. Healthcare facilities are also burdened with an increased number of admitted patients and emergency care services. This burden further extends to the economy of the country and is one of the causes of poverty and slows down the nation economic development.

80% of these diseases can be prevented, which is good news. The solutions to prevent and control non-communicable diseases are very cost-effective. To successfully do this, every country government needs to be committed to using existing knowledge and putting it into effective action.

Some of the measures that can be taken on a country level include;

1. Creating a department in the ministry of health solely responsible for NCDs.

2. Place a tax on drinks and foods high in sugar, fat, or salt.

3. Subsidising prices of healthy foods.

4. Existence of national screening for cancers- breast, cervical, prostate.

5. Availability of cardiovascular risk classification in 50% or more primary healthcare facilities.

6. General availability of blood pressure measurement, diabetes tests, and HbA1C tests at the primary healthcare level.

7. General availability of all medicines needed to treat all NCDs in the public health sector.

8. General palliative care for the management of NCDs in the community or home-based care in the public health system.

At OneHealth, we leverage technology to empower Africans to take charge of their health and prevent and manage diseases. Onewellness by OneHealth solves the number 8 problem by providing care to Africans living with non-communicable diseases. Studies show that people with long-term conditions have a compliance rate as low as 35%.

With the onewellness program, patients with chronic illnesses are assigned to care pharmacists that monitor their drug use, carry out weekly drug assessments, monitor their test levels, and give recommendations, and pharmacy care. They also enjoy doctor consultations, home-based lab tests, and personalized meal plans. This means that patients can access affordable, quality healthcare from the comfort of their homes. Onewellness helps to relieve the financial and emotional burden these conditions take on family members by providing a care partner that would provide accountability. These partners work with patients to make sure medications are taken when they should, meal plans are followed and recommendations are taken correctly.

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