BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)



The war against infectious diseases has stretched the health care systems beyond their limits and ushered in the widespread use of antibiotics and vaccines. It is a fact that infectious diseases kill very swiftly as evidenced by the fact that deaths due to tuberculosis exceed those from both world wars combined. However, most infectious agents are destroyed by antimicrobial drugs or vaccines. On the other hand, NCDs have no antibiotics or vaccine thus leaving preventive medicine and palliative care as the only solutions, at least for now. These diseases collectively known as NCDs not only account for 71% of all global mortality but also contribute to significant morbidity resulting in reduced health adjusted life years. There are many diseases under this umbrella but four of them are most common and significant due to the high prevalence and mortality rate associated with them. They include: Cardiovascular disease, Cancer, Respiratory disease and Diabetes.

NCDs are caused by an interplay of genome and exposome, the exposome is a more ethical and realistic target of control. As a result, these major NCDs share four common risk factors including alcohol abuse, tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets. These modifiable risk factors are all lifestyle habits that when addressed can greatly reduce the burden of these diseases. The natural question now follows, how can these risk factors be modified to address the NCD epidemic? Apart from general public health education on the negative impacts of unhealthy lifestyle habits listed above, there needs to be policies to guide and promote individuals towards healthy living such as restricting the availability of alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy diets such as salty and sugary foods. These could involve increased taxation, clear stipulation of negative health warnings and gradual reduction in activities that negatively impact health. One might wonder: why beat about the problem, why not ban every harmful product? Well, things are never that simple or easy. Most governments, very influential individuals and companies invest in, and even own these some of these health deteriorating products. More so, straight prohibitions are not only ineffective to maintain but also gives room for illegal routes of entry which would further increase financial costs on the system. Physical inactivity and unhealthy diet as risk factors for NCDs have resulted in the recent obesity epidemic. Again, policies like building safe and long walk areas to steer the population towards more activity as well as increased accessibility to healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables will go a long way to address the problem.

The chronic nature of these diseases coupled with little hopes of definite treatment has caused serious problems with hospitalization. How do we weigh the scales… the chances of disease complication and then living one’s entire life in the hospital? It seems homecare; self-care and increased utilization of paramedics and preventive measures may help address the problem.

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