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Health News Wed, 20 May 2009

Non-communicable diseases to kill more people in Africa

Cape Coast, May 20, GNA - Dr George Akwesi Amofa, Deputy Director General of Ghana Health Service, said on Tuesday that non-communicable diseases would kill 28 million people in Africa within the next 10 years.

He said the diseases, which include hypertension, diabetes cardiovascular disorders and cancers, accounted for 23 per cent of all deaths on the continent in 2005. Dr Amofa, who was speaking at the launch of the First National Public Health Week in Cape Coast, said projection made indicated that non-communicable disease associated deaths stood at 2.5 million in 2005 and that diabetes deaths alone will increase to 47 percent within the same period.

The theme for the week, which will be held from June 1-6, is "Don't Kill Yourself - Stay Healthy".

Activities lined up for its celebration include community durbars, cleaning services, blood donation, mini-mass immunization, health walk, promotion and sale of treated insecticide nets and clean-up. Dr Amofa painted the same dismal picture of the disease in Ghana and stressed that there appeared to be almost an epidemic of these non-communicable diseases in recent times, stating that the estimated prevalence rate of hypertension in Ghana stood as high as 30 per cent in a study conducted.

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Dr Amofa said five to 10 per cent of the population can also be found to be diabetic, while reckless driving, excessive alcohol intake and smoking were also killing more people. "People are killing themselves due to lack of exercise and over eating, too much intake of sugary, salty and oily foods, with too little vegetables and fruit." Nana Owusu Boampong, Acting Central Regional Director of Health, said efforts were being made to include basic diagnostic service and screening in all health facilities in the region to help in the early detection of diseases.

Nana Boampong said the biggest challenge was for the health professionals to empower households with knowledge on diseases for effective behavioural change to reduce the economic cost of disease. Osabarima Nana Kwesi Attah II, Paramount Chief of Oguaa Traditional Area and chairman for the occasion, noted that the theme for health was appropriate considering the high chronic non-communicable diseases being reported at the various health facilities and cautioned the youth and the elderly in the society about bad health practices. He urged the public to adhere to advice on healthy practices and carry the message to their relations.

Source: GNA