Although non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are among some of the difficulties that Botswana has had to wrestle with among the elderly people over the years, a serious problem is emerging and that is Batswana youth are increasingly being diagnosed with NCDs.
This was revealed on Monday morning at a seminar held by the Alliance of Youth Advocates (AoYA) which is a Gaborone-based lobby group that promotes and campaigns for the reduction of youth non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to AoYA, this revelation changes the dynamics as NCDs were generally known to affect the elderly people more than the youth.
Addressing delegates at the seminar, AoYA Director of Missions, Josephine Ramatlhape revealed that tobacco use was increasingly becoming a cause for concern among the youth.
“Increasing tobacco use is a risky behaviour which results in chronic diseases later in life. Most problems that elderly people face today started when they were still in their adolescence. So this is why policymakers have to come up with strategies now to counter such efforts and ensure these unhealthy patterns are nipped in the bud,” she says.
Amongst other things, she explained that adolescence is a critical phase of human development, in which the rapid psychosocial changes affect every aspect of the adolescent experience and lay the foundations for the rest of their lives.
She also called on the government to be radical and ensure that some of the food that students buy during their lunch time is healthy and low on fat.
“Involving schools in addressing NCDs is very critical but it is also important to note that teachers are already somewhat overloaded with administrative work. This is why it can be problematic to convince them to focus on NCD education, in addition to their busy schedules,” she says. However she said if teachers, parents and school administrators come together, the chances of these programs working increases exponentially.
Currently the world has nine NCD targets to be achieved by the year 2025 some of which include decreasing tobacco use by a third, reducing physical inactivity by ten per cent as well as reduction of alcohol use and salt intake.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 66 percent of premature deaths in adulthood are caused by childhood conditions and risky behaviours developed during adolescence.