President Adama Barrow at the launching of the National Multi-Sectoral Strategy and Costed Action Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Prevention and Control in The Gambia 2022-2027 revealed that more than 5,500 Gambians die prematurely every year, due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Giving the launching statement held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Conference Centre yesterday, H.E. President Adama Barrow said Non-Communicable Diseases, especially heart diseases; stroke, cancers and diabetes are amongst the greatest killers in the world accounting over 70% risk globally every year.
The National Multi-Sectoral Strategy and Costed Action Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control in The Gambia is a five-year roadmap on how the country seeks to address the increasing NCD burden from May 2022 to April 2027.
The strategy envisions a Gambia free from the avoidable burden of non-communicable diseases and NCDs being the leading cause of death, morbidity and disability globally, amounting for more than 71% of global deaths with 77% occurring in low-and middle income countries.
Like other developing countries, President Barrow said The Gambia faces numerous challenges leading to non-communicable diseases, adding that it is a concern that almost all households in the country are either directly or indirectly affected by NCDs.
He added that in The Gambia, it is reported that NCDs account for about 34% of all deaths registered in the country. “The concern for NCDs is not about the number of deaths but about the drivers of those diseases,” he noted.
Additionally, President Barrow reiterated that NCDs and their risk factors cannot be handled by any single entity but instead require a multi-sectoral approach to help fight the diseases.
The minister for health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said: “As the minister of health, I signed this strategy with commitment and conviction to spearhead all the policy guidance and soliciting government support required to achieve the results of the strategy and its Action Plan, to preserve the health of Gambians and relieve the suffering of people living with non-communicable diseases.”
He said the global Covid-19 pandemic has posed an extra challenge on our health system and other health systems worldwide, putting non-communicable disease patients at risk of complicated Covid-19 diseases and creating barriers to providing them with the necessary care.
The health minister affirmed that The Gambia was successful in prioritising and keeping non-communicable diseases high on its agenda, scaling up its action on non-communicable diseases and progressing towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 and committing to the global call to action in building back better.
According to him, The Gambia is taking major steps towards universal health coverage, scaling up its health services and increasing the financial protection of the population, especially the most vulnerable.
While the burden of communicable diseases is becoming increasingly controlled, challenges remain particularly among non-communicable diseases which are major contributors to the physical, mental and social suffering of the country’s population.
“The development of the strategy and costed action plan was a participatory and collective process with contributions from various sectors, including ministries, national and international partners, national societies, academia, and the private sector.