Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently causing 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide and it is estimated that this will rise to 75 per cent by 2030. About 80 per cent of deaths caused by these diseases occur in developing countries and about a quarter occur in people under the age of 60.
NCDs, also called lifestyle diseases are diseases that cannot be caught from another person or object contaminated by germs. They can usually be prevented or at least be curbed by following a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, most cancers, stroke and diabetes are general forms of NCDs.
We can limit our chances of getting NCDs by not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and managing stress levels.
As South Africa begins to deal more effectively with HIV and Aids and TB, more emphasis is placed on the care and treatment of NCDs.
Speaking at the recent National Summit on Non-Communicable Dieseases, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said to beat NCDs, the country needed to focus on particular key areas. These include information about prevention, symptoms and treatment, as well as research, better screening and ensuring better management and control of NCDs.
The aim of the two-day summit was to form partnerships with key stakeholders to develop plans to control and manage NCDs.
The summit was held a week before a United Nations High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in New York. President Jacob Zuma led a South African delegation.
We can limit our chances of getting NCDs by not smoking, following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and managing stress levels.
More focus should be placed on prevention measures to close the "floodgates" of new HIV infections, said North West MEC for Health, Dr Magome Masike.
According to Masike, the number of annual HIV-related deaths increased sharply from 1997, when 316 559 people died, to 2006 when 607 184 died.
Speaking at the North West Provincial HIV and Aids Strategic Planning Lekgotla hosted by the Provincial Council on Aids recently, Masike said young people were the ones mostly affected by the disease.
The North West has trained 1 400 nurses to administer ARVs. An additional 500 nurses will also undergo training in the current financial year. In addition, accredited facilities to offer ARVs will increase from 138 to 233 by March 2012.
In the North West, mid-year estimates have shown that 92 000 people in the province are eligible for anti-retroviral treatment.