African Ministers pledge to combat non communicable diseases

By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – African health ministers have adopted a United Nations-backed declaration calling for urgent action against non-communicable diseases, including heart conditions, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory problems.

Others are blood disorders, mental health, violence and injuries.

The Brazzaville Declaration on non-communicable diseases, NCDs, named for the capital of the Republic of Congo, where the document was adopted on recently at the African Regional Ministerial Consultation, under the auspices of the UN World Health Organization, WHO highlighted commitments against the growing problem of NCDs in Africa.

Actions agreed upon at the forum include strengthening and standardizing national health systems to generate disaggregated data on NCDs; using appropriate means, including information and communication technologies to promote health awareness and NCD’s prevention and control strategies.

The Ministers also committed to take action to protect people from: unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco, exposure to tobacco smoke and unsafe food; violence and injuries, and the advertising of unhealthy products.

They pledged to strengthen health systems with appropriate attention to financing; training and retraining of the health workforce; procurement and distribution of medicines, vaccines, medical supplies and equipment; improving infrastructure; and, evidence-based service delivery.

In the declaration, the African health Ministers also enjoined the World Health Organization, partners and civil society groups to provide technical support to Member States for implementing, monitoring, and evaluating recommendations contained in the document.

The declaration specifically requested African Heads of State and government in the region to endorse the declaration, and present it to the upcoming General Assembly High-Level Summit on NCDs in September this year as the African position.

Somali health-care workers also received medical training as part of a UN programme.