By Chioma Umeha
LAGOS – Globally, Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of functionary impairment and death. These diseases are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60 per cent of all deaths. By 2020, it is predicted that Non Communicable Diseases will be causing seven out of every 10 deaths in developing countries.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are regarded as chronic conditions that do not result from acute infectious process.
These conditions cause death, dysfunction, or impairment in the quality of life and they usually develop over relatively long periods. Generally, these conditions or diseases result from prolonged exposure to causative agents, many associated with personal behaviors and environmental factors.
NCDs include disease conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cancers (particularly breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancers); sickle cell anaemia; mental illnesses; injuries and accidents (road, industries and home); chronic lung diseases among others.
In view of this Lagos state government will tomorrow commence its fourth round of wellness week to curb the high incidence of NCDs such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
Announcing this in a press briefing, weekend, the Special Adviser on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, says that the State has embarked on a free screening and awareness programme on the three diseases following the dangers which they pose to health and economic loss to both individuals and governments.
He further explains that the wellness week will be flagged off simultaneously in all the five Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 11 Local Council Development Authorities (LCDAs) in Lagos East Senatorial District by the Sole Administrators.
Onanuga says: “The fourth round wellness week is scheduled to hold from tomorrow to Friday 19, between the 8am and 4pm, daily. The programme is an integrated health screening and will involve awareness and screening for hypertension and diabetes as well as screenings for cancers of the breast, cervix and prostate.
He adds: “The Hypertension and Diabetes screenings will take place concurrently in five LGAs and 11 LCDAs of the Lagos East Senatorial District.”
He however, notes that the screening for cancer of the Breast, Cervix and Prostate will take place in Epe LGA as well as Eredo and Ikosi Ejirin LCDAs.
The Special Adviser stresses: “The rationale for embarking on this screening programme cannot be overemphasized in view of the danger to health and economic loss to both individuals and governments, hypertension, diabetes and cancer pose. These diseases constitute a major component of what is generally referred to as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).”
He says, Hypertension or High Blood Pressure is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure is elevated.
Hypertension is classified as either primary (Essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension. About 90 to 95 per cent of cases are categorized as ‘primary hypertension,’ which means high blood pressure with no obvious medical cause.
Onanuga explains: “The remaining five to 10 per cent of cases, secondary hypertension, are caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.”
He further observes, Diabetes Mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes is a group of diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.
This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of frequent urination (polyuria), increased thirst (polydypsia) and increased hunger (polyphagia).
Cancer can be defined as the uncontrolled and abnormal division and growth of the cells of any part of the body, Onanuga says.
He explains: “The collection of these abnormal cells forms tissues known as tumours, which can present as lumps. Cancer cells spread beyond their original locations to other parts of the body.
“These cancer cells overcome normal body cells preventing them from performing their normal functions and eventually killing these cells. Cancers can affect any part of the body except the nail and hair.”
Onanuga further notes: “NCDs which can be referred to as invisible epidemics are an under-appreciated cause of poverty and hinder the economic development of many countries. Contrary to common perception, 80 per cent of chronic disease deaths occur in developing countries.
“The burden of NCDs has an impact not only on the quality of life of affected individuals and their families, but also on the country’s socioeconomic structure.”
He further explains that developing countries, like Nigeria where Lagos is situated are currently undergoing a major demographic and epidemiological transition, with significant increase in the burden of injuries and NCDs.
He adds that these diseases are more expensive to treat although generally preventable if early detection is initiated.
Corroborating earlier views, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, says, that this transition will, of necessity, re-orient demand for health services and increase pressures for improving disease – prevention and health promoting strategies in health care.
Idris also says that the State, being the commercial nerve center of the country, has peculiar environmental and other risk factors that predispose residents to NCDs.
His words: “This public enlightenment programme is being organized as result of inadequate knowledge/awareness of the symptoms, signs and effects of untreated hypertension, diabetes as well as cancer of the breast, cervix and prostate.”
It is targeted to create awareness on the Asymptomatic nature of NCDs as they are potentially fatal in outcome; many people have these diseases, without remotely knowing it; hence the name ‘silent killer.’
Expressing worries over increased incidence of sudden death, especially, among young people in the productive age range – 35 years, from hypertension, the State Ministry of Health boss says, there is “Significant correlation between hypertension and diabetes on one hand and End Stage Kidney Disease (renal failure), stroke, heart failure, and heart attack on the other hand with resultant high morbidity and mortality.
He adds: “Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developed countries. The goals of this programme, he maintains are to detect early asymptomatic/undiagnosed clients with NCDs; prevent complications through prompt, effective treatment and referral of diagnosed cases.”
Idris explains: “Lagos state is trying to boost capacity of health facilities in the State, both at the primary health care level and that of the tertiary level. Apart from building structures, the government is also equipping them.”