Walking together in the fight against non-communicable diseases
Tanzania is among African countries facing a growing scourge of non-communicable diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) comprise just above 30 percent of all deaths in Tanzania. WHO and partners are supporting country efforts to address NCDs through a two-pronged approach: development of national level guidelines and policies and, promoting integration of health precepts in non-health sector policies.
Early in October, WHO was invited as a panelist at the 4th Scientific Symposium about NCDs organized by the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), a teaching and research institution of the Muhimbili National Referral Hospital.
“The role of WHO is to advocate alongside the Ministry of Health to develop policies, guidelines and protocols that facilitate multi-sectoral response to prevent and control non-communicable diseases,” said. Dr. Alphoncina Nanai, WHO Country Office technical lead for NCDs programme.
WHO Tanzania cements the response to NCDs by advocating for integration of health equity in all non-health sector policies which has a bearing on the wellbeing of human health.
The purpose of the series of symposiums is to build interest in research that can inform interventions in non-communicable diseases in Tanzania and the East African community. The EAC has designated MUHAS as the center of excellence in research and treatment of non-communicable diseases in the East African community.
When officiating the symposium, the Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Faustine Ndugulile urged scientists to review existing data available within the Ministry of Health and identify research gaps. “I challenge you to use the wealth of data available to generate knowledge that will inform our policies, guidelines and decisions,” said Dr. Ndugulile.
Data from the health information system presented at the symposium showed 24 percent increase in NCD cases from 3,386,067 in 2016 to 4,190,467 in 2018. A quarter of the NCDs cases were cardiovascular diseases. The trend from the same data set showed a seven percent prevalence in urban areas and less than one percent in rural areas.
This year in November, the country will launch a national non-communicable disease program of which one of the key actions will involve tracking of progress made in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.
The symposium was convened under the theme ‘Walking together for prevention and control non-communicable diseases in Tanzania’. Common non-communicable diseases in Tanzania include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cancer, mental health and sickle cell diseases. Others also prevalent include ear, nose and throat (ENT), eye and oral conditions.