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Reducing the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases

Part 1: Introduction

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now receiving serious global attention. They are often known as chronic diseases with slow but progressive manifestations. NCDs affect every age group and are more common among the elderly and in low and middle-income countries. According to World Health Organization, NCDs are responsible for 71% of every death globally equivalent to 41 million people with an estimated 80% premature death annually. However, it is usually associated with a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors.

Non-communicable diseases often require long time management to prevent the progression of the disease and other complications. However, prevention is the best approach to address this group of diseases through deliberate efforts to prevent the risk factors. Regular screening, and early detection, are equally important. Hence, addressing non-communicable diseases improve general individual health and well-being, increasing productivity and advancing development.

Part 2: Types

Non-communicable diseases are multiple diseases and have been classified into a few major groups:

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular Diseases known as CVD are the leading cause of NCDs death globally with about 17.9% recorded death annually. These groups of diseases affect the heart and the blood vessels. They include Coronary health disease, cerebrovascular disease (Stroke) and others.

Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Chronic Respiratory Diseases are conditions that affect the airways and lungs. It includes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and asthma among others. The group of diseases are largely contributed to by the quality of air and environmental factors.

Preventable Cancer

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells and tissue within the body which could be localized in an area or spread to other areas different from its growing site. Cancer prevalence is increasing rapidly in low and middle-income countries and increasing the burden of diseases and decreasing the quality of life.


Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs as a result of excessive glucose/ sugar in the blood. It is a major risk factor for a lot of conditions with serious complications including blindness, strokes, health attacks, decubitus ulcer, amputation and kidney failure. Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and genetics are major risk factors.

Mental Health

Mental health disorders and psychoactive substance-related disorders are now of serious concern globally with high prevalence contributing largely to morbidity, disability and premature mortality.

Others including injuries, visual impairment

Aside from the major group of non-communicable diseases, numerous NCDs are less discussed and yet cause large death and disability. These include injuries from road traffic accidents and burns which have been the leading cause of death for children and adolescents. Other diseases including visual impairment and neuromuscular disease have also been known to contribute to the reduction in life span in people and also cause irreversible disability.

Part 3: Risks factors

NCDs usually result from combinations of preventable factors which are known as modifiable factors including Tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and excessive alcohol use and are also associated with age, genetics, and underlying disease conditions.

Part 4: Prevention, control and management

Prevention is paramount in non-communicable disease control and there has been increasing effect from local and international organizations including World Health Organization toward NCDs management and prevention. Attention towards reducing risk factors associated with non-communicable is very critical in the control.

Reducing the risk factors will however require collaborative efforts from the individual, communities and the government and will cut across all sectors including health, policy, agriculture, education, finance and other.

Management and intervention for NCDs are equally important and it requires a primary health care/community-based approach to reach the population suffering from these conditions. It entails early detection, adequate screening, and provision of access to treatment and palliative care.

Part 5: What are my roles?

You have a role to play in the prevention of NCDs. Practice the following steps:

Regular medical checkups and screening

Regular medical checkups and screening is very vital to help prevent non-communicable diseases am improve overall health. It makes early diagnoses possible and encourages early treatment with attention to areas of a person’s health.

Healthy diet

A healthy and balanced diet is very important for body growth and helps the body build immunity against diseases. However, it is important that you reduce your intake of salt and processed products such as canned products, carbonated, and sugary products. Eat more vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish and fruits.

Avoid smoking and other tobacco use

Tobacco and its product use have serious implications for the lungs and adjacent structures. It has been directly linked to a common cause of lung cancer and other chronic diseases of the lung. Hence an important way to live healthily is to avoid the use.

Say no to alcohol

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and other NCDs. Reduction in its usage or cessation is an important way to prevent it.

Physical activity

Physical activities and regular exercise help to keep a healthy weight, reduce stress and improve the functions of the body. Regular exercise of 30 minutes and moderately intense daily is vital for the body.

Get enough sleep

Adequate sleep of about 6 – 8 hours is necessary for the body to function maximally. It reduces stress and puts the body in the best state.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination against certain diseases helps reduce the risk of NCDs through imitation of the infection.

Control body weight and avoid a sedentary lifestyle

Obesity is one of the leading causes of NCDs and it is directly linked to an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Hence, the body should be kept in check to avoid other complications.

Manage stress and anger

Meditation, exercise and relaxation play a vital role in reducing anxiety and depression. Hence, anger and stress management is key and very important in preventing hypertension and other related diseases.

Be aware of your environment and air

Climate change is receiving attention as a key trigger to the increasing prevalence of NCDs and air pollution is a major risk factor for most chronic respiratory diseases and other NCDs. Hence paying attention to changes in the environment and air around is a crucial way to reduce the risk factors.

Drink water

Water is important for the optimal functioning of the body. It makes up 70% of the body and 55% of the blood. It is important to optimize the operation of various pathways and operations of organs in the body. Hence, taking enough water helps the body carry out its operations effectively.

Written by: Olufemi Timilehin Daniel

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