COVID-19 a wake-up call for NCDs

The rise in non-communicable diseases in the countries of the world including Myanmar has fuelled the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has been unforgiving for people living with non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, such as diabetes, cardiovascular-related illness, cancers, and mental health conditions, as well as other conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity.
This virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose a major health challenge for Myanmar. It shows that Covid-19 is not a single pandemic, but a synthesis of a coronavirus and an epidemic of non-communicable diseases which are preventable. While fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, we must consistently focus on addressing NCDs.
Now, non-contagious diseases which can just as easily afflict us are posing a threat to our daily lives. The number of deaths from non-communicable diseases is rising globally, and 62 per cent of the total deaths in the world in 2019 are from non-communicable diseases caused by four risk behaviours: consumption of tobacco and related products, alcohol; unsafe food; lack of physical exercise; and, air pollution. According to figures in 2018, premature deaths make up 24 per cent of the total deaths in the country while 25 per cent attributed to hearts ailments and cardiovascular disease and 13 per cent to cancer. Rural and township health departments across Myanmar run diabetes-hypertension treatment clinics every Wednesday, which offer medical examinations, treatments, and health awareness programs.
It is found that over 1.7 million people received tests at the clinics nationwide in 2019, and of them, over 20,600 have diabetes and over 429,000 have hypertension. As a result, there is now a greater need to administer healthcare for these diseases in rural areas where the majority of our citizens live.
If proper preventive measures are not put in place now, the situation may develop into a public health crisis in the next five to ten years.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Health and Sports finished the draft of the Costed Plan for NCD prevention and control 2021-2020 last month as part of efforts for supporting the National-level Strategy for Prevention and Control on Non-Communicable Diseases 2017-2021.
We are confident that this plan would not only reduce the prevalence of the virus, but also to more assertively address the burden of chronic disease, and the risk factors for chronic disease.
Our adolescents who make up one fourth of the total population of the country are playing a crucial role in combating non-communicable diseases in our country.

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