TZ finalises survey to heighten fight against NCDs

DAR ES SALAAM: THE national study on indications of non-communicable diseases (Steps Survey 2023) in Tanzania (Steps Survey 2023) is at final stages for completion, it has been revealed.

The government has expressed hopes the findings from the survey will enable improvement of policies and guidelines for effective implementation of interventions for fighting the non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The survey would be yet another government’s efforts to lessen the NCDs treatment burden whereby the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has been reporting to spend 40 per cent of its revenues on treatment of such diseases.

Speaking on Wednesday at an official launch of the Regional Non-Communicable Diseases Scientific Conference in Dar es Salaam, the Director of Curative Services in the Ministry of Health, Prof Pascal Ruggajo, said this year the country conducts the Steps Survey, which is the second after the first one conducted in 2012.

“Let me take this opportunity to reveal that this year’s survey has been conducted and a team of researchers is at final stages to complete the report,” he said at the event while representing Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

The previous survey indicated that there was high presence of NCDs, whereby one in each four people had high blood pressure and one in each 10 people had diabetes.

It also found out that there was an increase of risky behaviours such as the use of tobacco by 15.9 per cent, alcohol abuse by 29.3 per cent as well as unhealthy eating.

Prof Ruggajo further stated that currently the NCDs are seen to affect many people than other diseases. The statistics indicate that 67 per cent of these diseases are diagnosed in people aged below 40 years, which is the national labour force.

“Apart from being a major cause of deaths globally, the non-communicable diseases lead people to poverty, reduce efficiency at workplaces and affect national economy,” he said.

He further noted that the government is at final stages to pass the Bill on Universal Health Coverage in the Parliament which intends to strengthen systems of provision of services in order to relieve citizens from paying for treatment costs.

“This will assure individuals, families and the public at large to access health services at various level without obstacles,” he argued.

“The coming of the Universal Health Coverage will save many people from plunging into poverty as a result of catastrophic out of pocket spending on health service,” he added.

Earlier, Chairperson of the conference organising committee, Prof Appolinary Kamuhabwa, gave details about the three-day conference, saying it will have various presentations on the NCDs.

The conference is themed “Strengthening regional Collaboration in policy, research and innovation for Prevention, surveillance, and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases,”

He said the over 150 abstracts will be presented during the three days of conference.

According to WHO, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74 per cent of all deaths globally. Of all NCD deaths, 77 per cent are in low- and middle-income countries.

Tabling in the Parliament the 2023/2024 budget, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu stated that from July 2022 to March 2023, NCDs that caused many patients to attend health care centres included high blood pressure (890,788 patients, or 3.8 per cent), compared to 3.6 per cent in the same period in 2021/22 and diabetes (436,232 patients, or 1.8 per cent).

She said heart diseases caused 1,388 deaths, or 6.0 per cent of all deaths, compared to 5.4 per cent of deaths caused by the condition in the same period in 2021/22.

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