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Current challenges to tackle NCDs in Ethiopia

Overview of NCDs in Ethiopia

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diseases which cannot be transmitted from person to person. However, they are the top silent killers in 21st century. The main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. These five common risk factors (physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use and air pollution) are driving NCDs at the fastest speed. Evidence shows that NCDs highly affect developing countries, including in the African region.  About 80% of NCD related deaths were in low-middle income countries.1  

In Ethiopia, NCDs were killed about 700,000 people according to 2016 data. This accounts for 39% all deaths that happened in Ethiopia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, about 57,900 people can be saved by 2025 if Ethiopia will implement ‘WHO Best Buys’. 2 The country still has no multisectoral policy to curb this burden.3 Actions were not as much to reverse the current burden of NCDs in Ethiopia.  Some actions are focusing on treatment of NCDs which is not more effective as compared to prevention of NCD risk factors. Different reasons are behind the slow progress towards tackling NCDs in Ethiopia. The potential current challenges to tackle NCDs in Ethiopia are elaborated below.

Current response to NCDs in Ethiopia

  • Policy draft on tobacco
  • NCDs treatment in healthcare setting
  • Expanding cancer treatment centers
  • Cancers screening & treatments
  • One survey was conducted on NCDs & its risk factors 3
  • Hepatitis vaccine

*No actions have been made yet on alcohol use, unhealthy diet & physical inactivity at the governmentlevel.

Challenges to tackle NCDs in Ethiopia

  • Lack of multisectoral NCDs policy
  • Lack of trained human power in the field
  • Poor structure of NCDs team in the country
  • Lack of domestic fund for NCDs
  • Lack of youth involvement in NCDs
  • Low commitment from the ministry of health on NCDs
  • Low engagement of UN organizations, International NGOs, Local NGOs, Civil societies, private sectors  on NCDs in the country
  • Lack of NCDs research and surveillance center
  • Misunderstanding of NCDs by policy makers
  • Poor NCDs literacy
  • Poor focus on NCDs risk factors prevention measures

Possible suggestions

  • Develop multisectoral NCDs policy and National Physical Activity Plan
  • Implement WHO NCDs Best Buys and Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030
  • Engage youth in NCDs prevention & control
  • Establish NCDs training curriculum
  • Establish NCDs research and surveillance center
  • Establish strong NCDs department at directorate level
  • Allocate domestic fund for NCDs
  • Attract UN organizations, International NGOs, Local NGOs, Civil societies, private sectors  on NCDs in the country
  • Other possible solutions

Conclusion

According to WHO 2018 data, NCDs are killing more people than infectious diseases in Ethiopia. However, more actions and financial allocations are focused on on infectious diseases. This might be as a result of the above mentioned current challenges to tackle NCDs in the country. Thus, it is urgent to take action on NCDs & its risk factors in Ethiopia including tackling the current challenges.

References

  1. WHO. World Health Organization. Non-communicable diseases Factsheet 2017. [Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs355/en/ Accessed on Oct 20, 2018.
  2. WHO. Non-communicable Diseases Country Profiles 2018. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2018.
  3. WHO. Non-communicable Diseases Progress Monitor 2017. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2017.

 

About Author

 

Chalchisa Abdeta is young expert, researcher, blogger and volunteer on physical activity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Ethiopia. He took several training courses on NCDs & physical activity. He is working as country representative for physical activity in Ethiopia since December 2016. He obtained Master of Public Health from Haramaya University and Bachelor of Physiotherapy from University of Gondar. He has practiced for 8 years as physiotherapist in both public and private hospitals in the eastern Ethiopia. He is passionate physical activity advocate on social media and is struggling to tackle NCDs in Ethiopia since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @caaliphysio or @EthioPAnetwork

 

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