WHO renews pledge to support fight against non-communicable diseases

By Debbie Nduba

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reiterated its commitment in supporting the government in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including cancer.

The WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, made the pledge at the 3rd Annual International Public Health Conference, organised by the African Institute of Public Health Professionals (AIPHP) in collaboration with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

The 3-day event was held between 21 -23 September, 2021 at the headquarters of the university in Jabi, Abuja.

While delivering his address, Molumbo urged all stakeholders “to put our hands together towards prevention and cancer control. In Nigeria, prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men with an incidence rate of 12.5per 100.000 population.”

He said at the opening day if the conference titled “Non-Communicable Disease in Africa: Challenges, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control,’’ that WHO recommends a comprehensive approach to cancer control, which covers prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.

“Following the political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of NCDs in 2011, member states were tasked with the development of a multisectoral action plan to tackle NCDs, including cancers.

“I want to remind us all that NCD’s mainly cardiovascular diseases - cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, mental, neurological and substance use – are the world’s biggest killers. These diseases share a common risk which includes tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and air pollution,’’ the country director said.

He, however, maintained that WHO is supporting the conduct of national NCDs survey to obtain recent NCDs risk factors and interventions at strengthening the primary healthcare system towards the diseases.

In his welcome address, NOUN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olufemi Peters, said the conference has served as a way of getting the academia interfacing with the industry to compare notes and forge a way forward in trying to provide lasting solutions to public health challenges bedevilling the African continent.

“NOUN is committed to increasing access to quality education to Nigerians and allow all categories of Nigerians to study with the flexibility of Open Learning. Currently, NOUN is one of the leading institutions training health manpower in the area of Environmental Health, Nursing Science and Public Health,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Uduma Oji Uduma, implored all participants and all members of AIPHP to take advantage of these opportunities to build networks and working relationships that can enhance public health impact in Africa that will help in actualising increased access to quality healthcare.

He commanded all those who partnered with AIPHP, especially NOUN’s Faculty of Health Sciences, in organising the conference at the time that the health sector of all countries in the world is put to a challenge as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of the National Open University of Nigeria, we are greatly honoured to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the African Institute, of Public Health Professionals (AIPHP) to organise this 3rd Public Health International conference, the first ever in this university,’’ he added.

The Chairman, Governing Council, AIPHP, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the issue of health had to be looked into holistically, adding that anyone with NCD becomes vulnerable when attacked by disease like COVID-19.

According to him, Africa needs more public health professionals, research and development to help address health challenges in the continent.

AIPHP Registrar, Mr. Ayodele Bankole James said the choice of the theme for the 3rd Annual international conference was pertinent especially at this time that the global health problem is communicable disease - COVID 19.

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