New commitments made to fight noncommunicable diseases
JUST as Southeast Asia announced a declaration to fight non-communicable diseases, the Mandalay Region Public Health Department announced a new initiative to find and cure such diseases in three townships.
WHO Southeast Asia Region member countries adopted the “Colombo declaration” – which aims to strengthen primary healthcare services for non-communicable diseases – at the opening day of a regional meeting in Sri Lanka on September 5. Noncommunicable diseases include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory infections.
“Non-communicable diseases are already taking an unacceptable toll on populations, with the burden projected to rise in coming years,” said regional director for WHO in Southeast Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh, according to a statement. “To avert this possibility, services for these diseases must be made available at the primary healthcare level, and high-risk populations must be provided all opportunities to access screening and treatment.”
The Mandalay Regional Department of Public Health has chosen Thazi, Tada-U and Ngazun townships for its initiative, which is expected to start in October, department head U Win Naing said on September 1.
The department has already offered a training class to rural healthcare employees and provided medication, he said.
“We have mainly chosen the townships that are far from the city,” he said.
In August, Dr Myint Shwe, director of a branch of the Department of Public Health that deals with non-communicable diseases, explained that the success of 2012 programs in Yangon Region’s Hlegu and Hmawbi townships has led to plans for programs in 10 more townships around the country before the end of the year.
About 8.5 million people in Southeast Asia die each year from noncommunicable diseases, including 4.1 million youth, according to the figures released by WHO in 2014.
Some causes of non-communicable diseases include extreme use of cigarettes and tobacco, unhealthy lifestyle and diet, excess alcohol consumption and lack of proper physical exercise.
The Colombo declaration included a promise to fund health programs through taxes on cigarettes and unhealthy food.
“This is an important opportunity to reaffirm commitment to the global goal of reducing NCD-related premature mortality by one-third by 2030, and to actually map out how we will get there,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh according to the WHO’s statement. “Implementing effective policy solutions is vital to addressing the personal and social tragedy caused by NCDs, as well as their impact on economic development.”