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#WEFAfrica2017: Non-communicable diseases 'a major threat'

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Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, South African Minister of Health, at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban. PHOTO: WEFMinister of Health for South Africa, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Nina Dudnik, CEO of Seeding Labs, Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, CEO of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, Jürgen Brokatzky-Geiger, global head of Corporate Responsibility for Novartis International, at a session titled "African-led Health Systems", at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban. PHOTO: WEF
Durban – Non-communicable diseases posed a major threat and were a huge unwanted burden on already stretched health resources in Africa, the World Economic Forum on Africa has heard. 

During a session titled "African Health-led Economies" at the Durban International Convention Centre on Thursday evening, it was agreed that prevention was the correct approach to take to counter Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Africa's two most powerful economies, South Africa and Nigeria, have both seen an increase in non-communicable diseases, which has added to the burden of communicable diseases such as HIV and Aids. South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said: "Africa cannot afford this explosion of non-communicable diseases. That's why prevention is so important. 

"In developed countries, 80 percent of diseases are non-communicable and 20 percent are communicable. In Africa it's the other way around. "However, in South Africa, it's a case of 53-47. We are half like Africa and half like Europe and we have to deal with both at the same time," Motsoaledi said. 

"What is quite disturbing is that even to deal with communicable diseases we have to ask for funding. "Are we now going to have to ask for help for diabetes and cancer too?" the minister continued. 

"It will be embarrassing." Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, the CEO of the Private Sector Health Alliance (PHN) in Nigeria, told the session that in his country, four-fifths of cases were communicable diseases and one fifth non-communicable. 

"It's a hidden time bomb. There are underlying issues with data. No one is sure of prevalence rates." Motsoaledi went on to say that South Africa's healthcare system was lopsided in that its private healthcare system was excellent but served only 16 percent of the population. 

"We have the strongest healthcare on the continent but not the best. The public healthcare system is better than most on the continent but it is not what it should be."

African News Agency
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