08 October 2012, Nairobi -- The Regional workshop to address Non-Communicable Diseases in the WHO African Region was officially opened today in Nairobi by the Honourable Minister of Medical Services, Hon. Anyang’ Nyong’o. The meeting whose theme is “Uniting against NCDs: The time to act is now”, will take stock of the implementation of the current 2008-2013 Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, while developing a framework for acceleration of the implementation of the different commitments on NCDs prevention and control as AFRO’s contribution to the global framework.
The three-day (8 to 10 October) meeting is attended by representatives from ministries of health, research and academic institutions, development partners, civil society and the media.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Director of Medical Services Dr Francis Kimani, the Hon. Minister of Medical Services, Hon. Anyang Nyong’o, highlighted the increasing burden of Non-communicable diseases (NCD)s in Kenya and attributed the over 50% of all hospital admissions and 55% of hospital deaths to the increasing health risky behaviours, including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and exposure to environmental carcinogens in the population.
The Minister stressed the importance of tackling NCDs holistically and urged African countries to invest more in NCDs prevention, control and management. The Minister went further to highlight the key strategies to reduce health risk factors and encourage healthy choices. These were among others: multi-sectoral actions, including the establishment of results-oriented collaborative efforts, alliances and partnerships; programmes related to advocacy, community mobilization and environmental interventions; re-orientation of health systems; legislative, administrative and political commitments that promote healthy public policies; and addressing the underlying determinants of NCDs using inter-sectoral actions.
In her remarks, the WHO Country Representative, Dr Custodia Mandlhate thanked the Kenya Government for hosting the regional meeting and provided an overview of NCDs in the region, highlighting the magnitude of the problem and the future projections.. NCDs are projected to exceed communicable diseases, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most common causes of death in Africa by 2025.
The Region has the highest age-standardized NCDs mortality rates for all ages - for males (844 per 100 000) and for females (724 per 100 000). In 2010, NCDs were responsible for more than 3 million deaths representing 40% of all deaths in the WHO African region. About half of all deaths due to NCDs occur in persons aged less than 70 years, making NCDs a significant contributor to premature death and disability in Africa.
Dr Mandlhate, commended recent global and regional political commitments to address NCDs. These include the United Nations High-level Summit of Heads of State and Government on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York that took place in September 2011 and the First Global Ministerial Conference on NCDs and Healthy Lifestyles jointly organized by the Russian Federation and the World Health Organization in Moscow in April 2011, the Regional Ministerial Consultation on NCDs held from 04 to 06 April 2011 in Brazzaville, Congo and the subsequent adoption of the Brazzaville Declaration, which is proposed for full endorsement in this year’s 62nd session of the WHO Regional Committee.Dr Custodia reiterated WHO’s strong commitment in providing technical support to Member States, in collaboration with other partners to accelerate and improve key interventions for addressing NCDs prevention and control at all levels including the primary health care level. She finally wished all participants well and successful deliberations in the meeting.
Others who spoke at the meeting included the President of the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), Prof. Mbanya, who urged all participants to seize the opportunity to address the NCD challenges facing the African continent. He thanked and commended WHO for organizing the meeting and bringing together regional experts to take stock of the NCD situation in the region and contribute to the global action plan.