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Can the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity block the NCD Epidemic?

Overview

Different sets of evidence continue to disclose the burning burden of NCDs especially in low-middle income countries (LMICs). However, the actions to tackle these fatal issues are not moving forward as expected. In fact, NCDs are killing about 40 millions of nations every year. Around 80% of these deaths are occurring in LMICs where human and financial resources are scarce. This implies that NCDs are going to clear the nations from planet Earth if not tackled early.

Physical inactivity

The term physical inactivity implies not achieving the minimum requirements for physical activity. Studies showed that inactivity contributed 9% to global death. Besides, it was driving the rise of NCDs by 20-30%. Different physical activity experts & researchers were pushing policy makers to take action since this was recognized as a pandemic. Following this, World Health Organization (WHO) has developed and launched the global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030.

Due to the complex nature of NCDs, expected progress was not achieved in order to save the nations. According WHO 2017 progress monitor report, majority of the countries were not ready and did not even  have a multi-sectoral action plan for NCDs. For instance, Ethiopia has only a few NCD case teams at the federal level and sub-program unit. Even if the unit was established, there is no sufficient budget for this unit. On the other hand, the teams are not well trained and committed to tackling the burden of NCDs in Ethiopia. In one year, 3 case team coordinators were changed. This showed that the assigned experts are not committed and do not understand NCDs well. Knowing NCDs does not necessarily mean understanding it. I like to suggest that understanding NCDs both at global and national have strong potential to block the silent epidemic of these stupid diseases.

But, it is possible to prevent NCDs in addition to certain treatments by removing its shared common risk factors. Among these, physical inactivity is the fourth leading factor for global NCDs death. Thus, implementing comprehensive action is highly crucial to tackle the current complex burden of NCDs. The new WHO Global action plan on physical activity (GAPPA) is not only developed to create more active nations but also creating new windows of opportunities to create active systems, active societies and active environments. It has a wide detail action plan which gave a hope for reversing the NCD epidemic. You can access it here http://www.who.int/ncds/prevention/physical-activity/gappa/action-plan

Summary

Evidence shows that NCDs are on the fastest rise in the globel with the highest burdens in low-income countries. However, there is a huge human & financial scarcity in LMICs. Not only this, majority of existing experts lack strong commitment and influence on policy makers. Following implementation of GAPPA, countries can request technical support as mentioned in the document. Therefore, the GAPPA has a strong potential to block NCDs. Understanding NCDs both at global and national level have strong implication to block the silent epidemic of these stupid diseases.

About author

Chalchisa Abdeta is certified with different global level trainings on physical activity to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He obtained Master of Public Health from Haramaya University on July 2016 and Bachelor of Science degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Gondar on July 2009. He has practiced for 8 years as a physiotherapist in both public and private hospitals in eastern Ethiopia. Currently, he is working volunteer as country contact for Ethiopia at the Global Observatory for Physical Activity and Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance since 2016. Besides, he is working with Engage Africa Foundation as a blogger and policy researcher. He founded an online network of physical activity advocate (Ethiopian Physical Activity Network) that aimed to increase awareness of physical activity in Ethiopia and beyond. He is a passionate physical activity advocate on social media since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @caaliphysio or @EthioPAnetwork

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Fighting non-communicable diseases in Africa through the voices and creativity of everyday people

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