Government moves to decentralise treatment of chronic diseases

Isaac Adewole

Isaac Adewole

Develops new policy on diabetes, cancers, stroke
As part of the ongoing reform in the health sector, the primary healthcare centres are being re-positioned to be able to also treat chronic diseases, thereby giving more needy Nigerians access to such crucial services.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 24% of illness related death in Nigeria is now caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The primary healthcare centres are mostly in rural communities and meant to improve healthcare at the grassroots through diagnosis and treatment of common diseases. They also provide services such as counseling and immunization.

But the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has announced that as part of efforts to decongest the nation’s hospitals and provide access of greater number of Nigerians to certain specialized services, the treatment of chronic diseases would also be available at the primary healthcare centres soon.

The minister, who addressed journalists as part of activities marking the 2016 World Health Day, in Abuja, said: “Part of our efforts to increase access to services required for the management of diabetes and ensure a sustainable financing plan is in play. We aim to incorporate the management of chronic illnesses into the benefit package to be delivered to Nigerians at the primary care level.”

Adewole announced that the Federal Government has developed a new National Policy and Strategic Plan of Action on non-communicable diseases and a national nutritional guideline on prevention, control and management of the ailments.

A World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet describes non- communicable diseases (also known as chronic diseases) as diseases not passed from person to person. “They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.”

The minister said: “Although the aim of the 2016 World Health Day is to scale up diabetes prevention efforts, strengthen the pathway for care delivery and enhance surveillance, this objective is a sub-set of public health service and should not be detached from broader health systems goals. Today thus provides us with the opportunity to take stock of our health system, its challenges and ability to respond to population health needs in a rapidly changing world.

“Nigeria is currently undergoing an epidemiological transition, and the rise in prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has implications on demands for health care services. The health system hence needs to be positioned to respond to effectively to these new challenges and be able to offer quality services towards the management of the associated co-morbidities of NCDs.”

“According to the WHO, 24% of illness related deaths in Nigeria is now caused by NCDs, with diabetes accounting for 2% of this. Diabetes is increasingly becoming an epidemic especially among adolescents and young adults, partly due to the rapid socio-cultural change being experienced, and the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles and risky behaviours.”
He described diabetes as the commonest endocrine disorder and a major non-communicable disease (NCDs) that causes deaths, serious morbidity and debility.

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