Sunday, June 16, 2024

NCDs likely to kill 27% of Batswana between the ages of 30 and 70

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that a Motswana has a 27.4% chance of dying between the ages of 30 and 70 from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory disease. This follows the revelation that approximately 1.6 million people between the ages of 30 and 70 die prematurely from at least one of the four major NCDs in the African Region, accounting for 63% of all NCD-related deaths.

According to WHO’s report, “Communicable and non-communicable diseases in Africa in 2021/22,” 42% of people in Lesotho are likely to die between the ages of 30 and 70 from NCDs, compared to 36.25% in the Central African Republic, 35.86% in Eswatini, 30.51% in Mozambique, and 28.51 in Zimbabwe. Botswana comes in sixth position 27.4%.

The WHO report which examines national trends in the burden and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the WHO African region notes that “the African region experiences a high burden of NCDs, mainly cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and poor mental health. Currently, the proportion of mortality due to NCDs ranges from 36% to 88%.”

WHO set nine NCD targets to eradicate NCDs by 2025. Some of the targets include halting the rise in diabetes and obesity, a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years, a 10% relative reduction in prevalence of insufficient physical activity, a 25% decrease in mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs), at least 10% relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol, as appropriate, within the national context.

However a cursory look at data shows that Botswana is nowhere near achieving the bulk of the targets. The increasing trend of NCDs is attributed to more people involved in risky behaviours such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

Worse still, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reported in 2020 that the number of deaths from diabetes in Botswana from 2009 to 2019 increased by 40.1%. IHME is an independent health research centre that provides comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them.

Among other things, the WHO report notes that men are more likely to die more from NCDs compared to women in the WHO Africa region.

“Men aged 30-70 were more likely to die more from NCDs (67.11% [51.7-78.5%]) compared to women of the same age-group (59.9% [43.8%-72.8%]). The risk of dying between the ages of 30 and 70 from NCDs was high (>=30%) in four countries in 2021 (Central African Republic, Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique) and was relatively low in Algeria (< 15%),” states the report.

In an attempt to beat physical inactivity in Botswana, the minister of Health, Dr Edwin Dikoloti is promoting physical activity by encouraging each Motswana and resident in Botswana to walk a minimum of 10 000 steps per day. While it might be a tough ask to squeeze exercise into our busy schedule, new research suggests that doing this is linked to a lower risk of dying prematurely.

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