The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Nigerians to practice more physical activities to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.
WHO representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, on a walk in Abuja on Saturday, said NCD rates would drop if people engaged in regular exercise.
“The importance of the walk is to create awareness and remind Nigerians to be active in reducing the burden of NCDs through physical activities,” he said.
Mulombo said it was an opportunity to mobilize everyone to overcome the burden of these diseases which he said are on the rise.
The marked event; “Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge” was organized in collaboration with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health and other partners.
Mulombo said the event marked the start of the activities of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which kicked off in Geneva on Sunday.
The theme of the 75th WHA is “Health for Peace and Peace for Health”. Peace is at the center of everything people do and without peace there is no health,” he said.
NCDs account for approximately 71% of the 57 million deaths reported each year worldwide. Most of these deaths are caused by diabetes, cancers, heart and lung diseases. More than 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
These diseases are, to some extent, preventable and manageable. But it is estimated that by 2030, they will cause 75% more deaths than malnutrition and infectious diseases.
The rapid increase in NCDs has become a global public health challenge, especially for developing countries like Nigeria. Indeed, this puts more and more strain on the health system.
Although there are no official statistics on the burden of NCDs in Nigeria, the 2016 WHO Country Profile on NCDs estimated that NCDs cause approximately 617,300 deaths, or 29% of the total number of deaths in the country.
Of these, diabetes accounted for 2%; cancer, four percent; injuries, 8% and cardiovascular diseases, 11%.
The report also states that premature deaths in the country (between the ages of 30 and 70) due to NCDs are 22%.
Some of the major non-communicable diseases in Nigeria include cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Others include cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disease, chronic respiratory disease, mental illness, neurological and substance use disorders, motor vehicle accidents, and oral health disorders.
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