21st September, 2011
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes cost Nigeria losses of up to 800 million dollars (about N122.8 billion) annually, the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said.
Addressing the UN high-level meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York, Chukwu said such NCDs would cost Nigeria an accumulated 7.6 billion dollars by 2015.
The minister described the figure as unacceptable and expressed the hope for a strong international resolve to combat the problems of non-communicable diseases.
He told the meeting attended by more than 30 heads of states and governments and at least 100 other senior ministers and experts, that sickle cell disease was a major challenge in Nigeria.
He said 150,000 babies in the country were born with the disease annually, while at present eight million Nigerians suffered from hypertension and four million had diabetes.
He added that 100,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed each year in Nigeria, noting that the incidence of chronic diseases was high, many of them tobacco related.
He lauded the fact that trauma and injuries from road traffic accidents had been included in the NCDs, noting that 10,000 Nigerians died annually from such accidents. â€œNCDs (Non-communicable diseases) are not only controllable; that is the good news; they are also preventable.
â€œSo Nigeria, realising the threat of NCDs have decided to take major steps to respond to this epidemic.
â€œWe have developed a National policy on NCDs and we have also banned advertisement and use of tobacco products in public places since 1990. Our Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has led the way and is a tobacco-free city.â€
Nigeria also signed and ratified the WHO framework for tobacco prevention and control while the National Assembly recently passed a national tobacco control law, he added.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister who delivered the address on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, stressed the need for international cooperation to prevent and control the problem.
He assured the international community that development of the health care sector was a critical part of the Nigerian governmentâ€™s agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
NAN reports that the two-day high-level General Assembly meeting adopted a declaration calling for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs by 2013.
The groups include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
The summit declaration also called for greater measures at global, regional and national levels to prevent and control NCDs.
It stressed that about nine million of the deaths occur before the age of 60, with nearly 80 percent of such deaths in developing countries.