The thin line between changing lifestyle and death

TANZANIA is already facing challenges caused by existing burden of communicable diseases, and the growing trend of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which raises a lot of concerns and challenges.

Both local and international scientific evidence shows that the rising burden of diseases attributable to NCDs is surpassing that of infectious diseases.

In Tanzania, there is a rich experience of morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, oral health, mental health and substance abuse, accidents and injuries. These groups of conditions constitute the more common NCDs.

The NCDs challenge is overwhelming, when you consider poverty levels, resource constraints to the health sector, huge costs of managing malaria, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and reproductive health, effects of climate change and world food crises.

Non communicable diseases and conditions including injuries cause a significant and growing proportion of the burden of disease in Tanzania, accounting for between 15per cent and 28per cent of all Years of Life Lost.

There is therefore a need to address NCDs before they will take unaffordable epidemic proportion. The rapid increase in prevalence of NCDs is attributed to the demographic change with longer life span and to changes in lifestyle specifically concerning diet, level of physical activity, alcohol and tobacco usage which are common risk factors shared by several NCDs.

NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa and Tanzania in particular are posing an increasing challenge for health systems, which have to date largely focused on tackling infectious diseases and maternal, neonatal, and child deaths. To effectively address these changing needs, Tanzania requires detailed epidemiological data on NCDs.

In sub-Saharan Africa, communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV have long been among the most prominent contributors to disease burden.

However, like most low-income and middle-income countries across the globe, Tanzania is undergoing a rapid epidemiological transition characterised by a shift from disease-burden profiles dominated by communicable diseases and childhood illnesses to profiles featuring an increasing predominance of chronic, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

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