By Adama Makasuba
The Gambian president His Excellency Adama Barrow has said the country faces challenges linked to non-communicable diseases.
“Like other developing countries, The Gambia faces numerous challenges linked to non-communicable diseases. To cite a few examples, it is a concern that almost all households in the country are either directly or indirectly affected by NCDs, and more than five thousand, five hundred (5,500) people die prematurely every year, due to non-communicable diseases. This has serious implications for the socio-economic development of the country,” he said.
“To make matters worse, health sector reports indicate that nearly one-third of the adult population have raised blood pressure and nearly 15% of Gambian adults are overweight. These figures are frightening, particularly when we remember that about 17% of the adult population smoke cigarettes and one in every five adults are physically inactive. In addition to these, about 85% of households use solid fuel for cooking, and this exposes them to indoor air pollution These statistics are not encouraging, and the situation is compounded by the disclosure that over 90% of Gambians, aged between 25 and 64 years, have one or more NCD risk factors,” he added.
“This implies that the burden of NCDs is expected to increase, which is quite worrisome. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is obvious that we have a big task at hand. If the data and reports are anything to go by, NCDs and their underlying risk factors cannot be handled by any single entity.
“It requires a multi-sectoral approach, and this makes the NCD Strategy a highly appreciated document. The consultative process, involving different stakeholders, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health was the best method to adopt. I commend the Ministry and all the stakeholders involved in the process. It is certain that developing a document of this nature calls for huge resources, time, and energy,” he added.