Cut risk factors for chronic diseases

Friday, May 24th, 2024 06:00 | By
Nutrition and lifestyle tips for Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
Image used for representational purposes. PHOTO/Print

The world recognises non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a major challenge for sustainable development goals. As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, heads of state and government committed to develop ambitious national responses to reduce by one third premature mortality from the diseases through prevention and treatment.

Many of these chronic diseases can be prevented by reducing common risk factors, such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, physical inactivity and eating unhealthy diets. These diseases threaten progress towards the agend.

Poverty is closely linked to these diseases, and their rapid rise is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care.

Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people in higher socio-economic groups, especially because they are at greater risk of exposure to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.

In low-resource settings, healthcare costs for chronic diseases quickly drain household budgets. The exorbitant costs associated with the diseases, including treatment, which is often lengthy and expensive, combined with loss of income, force millions into poverty annually and stifle development.

In Kenya,  these diseases are responsible for more than 50 percent of in-patient hospital admissions and 39 percent of all deaths annually. Cardiovascular diseases account for most of the NCD-related deaths in the country.

Even as the government is changing healthcare delivery from curative at tertiary health facilities to preventive and promotive services at the community level, it’s imperative that Kenyans address their lifestyle challenges.

Kenyans expose themselves to the common risk factors cited above, and a major concern for the nation is that without behaviour change, they risk ending up in the grave before they reach their full potential.

An important way to control NCDs, therefore, is to focus on reducing the risk factors associated with these diseases. Monitoring progress and trends about these diseases and their risk is important for guiding policy and priorities.

To lessen the impact of the diseases on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach is needed requiring all sectors, including health, finance, transport, education, agriculture, planning and others, to collaborate in order to reduce the risks associated with them, and to promote interventions to prevent and control them.

It’s thus critical to invest in better management of the disease, including detecting, screening and treating these diseases, and providing access to palliative care for people in need.t

More on Opinion