‘35m may die of non-communicable diseases’

WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl

WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl

FORMER World Health Organisation (WHO) Coordinator for West Africa, Professor Oladapo Walker, yesterday raised alarm that about 35 million people may die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) yearly nationwide.

Walker lamented that the non-treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases may adversely affect the economic growth of the country and urgently called for measures to curtail loss of lives.

The WHO chief stated this at the second Professor Joshua Adeniyi yearly guest lecture and book launch with the theme: “Non-communicable diseases; an emerging public health issue” held at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

According to him, “Treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases may adversely affect the economic growth of a family and by extension the country. It is a well-known fact that many of our patients who are on anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic drug may not be able to afford the high costs, and default on treatment may result in catastrophic outcomes, which in some cases result in death. If this trend continues, it is not difficult for us to see that we may be producing a new wave of orphans from the NCDs while we keep on controlling the communicable diseases.”

Walker informed that based on the WHO’s estimation, Nigeria may loose up to $10 billion in the next 10 years.

“In short, the economy of the world may be poorer by more than $3 billion in the next years if the rising trend of NCDs is not curtailed.”

He explained that the challenge that people with chronic diseases have is that of maintaining the same quality of life, and paying essential bills when the drug bills keep on mounting.

“In the long run, families who were comfortably in the middle class may find themselves struggling in order to pay the drug bills. Thus the social gap between the rich and the poor will widen if we don’t close the gap. This state of affair being created by the NCDs is unacceptable.”

Walker then called for the participation of everyone in curtailing NCDs saying that it is not the business of only the specialists.

“This is because in order to have maximal impact on the society we must have everybody on board.”

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