The PAMJ Blog
The Official blog of the Pan African Medical Journal
Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), mental health and injuries: Africa's ticking time bomb? Opinions of key stakeholders in prelude to the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa, 13th - 15th of December 2022, Kigali, Rwanda
09 Dec 2022 / Article
The 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa will be holding in Kigali, Rwanda, from the 13th to the 15th of December 2022. Facilitated by the editorial team of the Pan African Medical Journal represented by Dr. Raoul Kamadjeu (managing editor), and Dr. Luchuo Engelbert Bain (Senior Science Editor), a high level virtual discussion on this subject was held on the 27th of October 2022. Our panelists were: Prof Kaushik Raimaya, board member of the World Diabetes Foundation from Tanzania, Prof Taiwo Lateef Sheikh, Advisory Board Member to the Africa CDC and Psychiatrist from the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Dr. Mary Nyamongo, Executive Director of the African Institute for Health & Development (AIHD) based in Nairobi, and Dr. Abdulaziz Mohammed, the head of the division of disease control and prevention at the Africa CDC.
As the main torch-bearer and guide for public health in Africa, the Africa Centre for Disease Control (The Africa CDC), identified Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health and injuries as highly neglected public health concerns in the continent. Indeed, the prevalence of hypertension is exceeding 42% among the adult population in many African countries, out of every 100 persons with diabetes, only 50% are diagnosed, the prevalence of overweight and obesity exceeds 64% from most recent studies. HIV, which has become a chronic disease mandate integrated care, which as we speak, remains an illusion.
The neglect of NCDs, mental health and injuries were unanimously considered a ticking bomb for Africa. Mental health is one of the most neglected health concerns of modern times in the continent. The disheartening weak workforce (for instance, 1 psychiatrist to 1,000,000 persons in Africa) and lack of awareness of, and appreciation of mental health across the entire health spectrum was a real issue of concern. The lack of “screening in our DNA” was highlighted as a key contributor to late diagnosis and death from these conditions. Malnutrition remains a key contributor to NCDs. The sociocultural dimensions of malnutrition were highlighted as issues to be carefully considered. The NCD burden, risks being aggravated by the health impacts of climate change. Not only does climate change impact food security (aggravating malnutrition), recent findings are increasingly reporting rising rates of dementia.
The lack of reliable data, inadequate operationalization of integrated care, integrating screening into the DNA of communities and health workers, responsible task shifting, most especially in establishing the link between community workers and frontline health workers were considered issues of burning importance. The 2nd International conference on Public Health in Africa provides a unique opportunity for key actors to discuss on how these issues can be tackled.