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Sierra Leone News: WHO questions governments’ actions on non-communicable diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has questioned the global commitment of governments in addressing the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) during the launch of the NCDs Progress Monitor 2017, in Geneva and New York, yesterday.
Non-communicable diseases include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma, eye cataracts, chronic kidney disease and lung disease.
“Governments are making limited progress, so more action is needed to address NCDs and main risk factors to meet global targets to reduce premature deaths.”
According to the report, Sierra Leone is yet to achieve the unhealthy diet reduction measures: salt/sodium policies, saturated fatty acids and trans-fats policies, marketing to children restrictions and marketing of breastmilk substitute’s restrictions.
Some progress has been made in the harmful use of alcohol reduction measures, with restrictions on physical availability. Advertising bans or comprehensive restrictions hasn’t been met but the increase in excise taxes has been achieved.
No effort has been made towards tobacco demand-reduction measures, like increasing the excise taxes and prices, developing smoke-free policies with large graphic health warnings/plain packaging and bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The country, they say, is yet to achieve the national NCD targets, mortality data, the national integrated NCD policy/strategy/action plan, public education and awareness campaign on physical activity, guidelines for management of cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, drug therapy/counselling to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
WHO wants governments to step up efforts to control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to meet globally agreed targets, including preventing the premature deaths of millions of people from these conditions.
“Limited national progress has been made in the fight against NCDs – primarily cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes – which are the world’s biggest killers, and claim the lives of 15 million people aged 30 to 70-years annually.
But the WHO NCD Progress Monitor 2017, which charts actions by countries to set targets, implement policies to address four shared and modifiable NCD risk factors (tobacco, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol) and build capacities to reduce and treat NCDs, shows that progress around the world has been uneven and insufficient.
In his foreword to the Monitor, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, highlighted advances in responding to NCDs but urged further action. “Bolder political action is needed to address constraints in controlling NCDs, including the mobilization of domestic and external resources and safeguarding communities from interference by powerful economic operators.”
The Progress Monitor provides data on 19 indicators in all of WHO’s 194 Member States. The indicators include setting time-bound targets to reduce NCD deaths; developing all-of-government policies to address NCDs; implementing key tobacco demand reduction measures, measures to reduce harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets and promote physical activity; and strengthening health systems through primary health care and universal health coverage.
By Zainab Joaque
Tuesday September 19, 2017.

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