Non-communicable Diseases Account for 3 in 10 Deaths in Nigeria.

According to the 2018 WHO country profile, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for an estimated 29% of all deaths in Nigeria with cardiovascular diseases as the primary cause of NCD-related death (11%) followed by cancers (4%), chronic respiratory diseases (2%) and diabetes (1%). Other NCDs in Nigeria include Sickle Cell Disease, Deafness and Hearing loss, Blindness, Violence and Injury including Road Traffic Crashes, Oral Health including Noma and Disability. 

NCDs—mainly cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and Mental Health Disorders—are the world’s biggest killers and have now been termed “a silent epidemic”. Among these diseases, CVDs are the number 1 cause of death accounting for 17.5 million deaths annually with high blood pressure found to be the leading risk factor for CVDs. These diseases share common risk factors which are; tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution.

While communicable diseases remain the primary cause of death in Nigeria, the country is currently facing an increase in the burden of NCDs with premature mortality from NCDs estimated at 22%.

To tackle NCDs, Nigeria’s  Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH and  in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and key stakeholders launched the first National Multisectoral Action Plan (NNMSAP) for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) for Nigeria.

Key sectors involved in the development process include Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (international and national), Civil Society Organizations, Research institutes and the Academia. With this development, Nigeria fulfils her commitment made at the 2018 United Nations (UN) High-level meeting on NCDs, where member states, re-committed to fast-track the development of a multi-sectoral action plan to tackle NCDs.

Speaking during the official flag-off of the NMSAP, the Permanent Secretary, FMoH, Alhaji Abdullahi Mashi said, “NCDs are a major source of disease and death globally. In Nigeria, research by WHO in 2018 shows NCD prevalence to stand at 29%, Cardio vascular diseases at 11%, cancer 4% and diabetes 2%.” He further said, “The NCD NMSAP is, therefore, coming at a very appropriate time. We need to hit the ground running and ensure we eliminate NCDs as stated in the NMSAP between 2019-2025.”

The focus of the health sector in most countries had being almost exclusively on healthcare services. As NCD risk factors lie in sectors beyond health, the key strategy is to use a multisectoral approach. Different sectors have different contributions to make towards solving this problem. 

In his remarks, Dr Clement Peter Lugala, the Officer in Charge (OiC), WHO Nigeria applauded the Government of Nigeria for the landmark achievement and said, “Getting multiple ministries from across Nigeria in one room to discuss NCDs in no small feat.” He added that, “The journey to beating NCDs should start with tackling the risk factors of NCDs and promoting healthy lifestyles. We have a lot to do, but we need to work together. The NMSAP is not just about a conversation or a document, but it’s about ‘how we implement the plan’. I therefore call on the Government and all well-wishing partners to contribute aggressively to tackle NCDs in Nigeria. The United Nations through the WHO and implementing partners will continue to support the Government of Nigeria in the fight against NCDs.”