Non communicable diseases in Tanzania: a call for urgent action
Globally there is evidence of the growing burden of Non Communicable diseases (NCDs) especially in developing countries including Tanzania. This paper summarises the review of published papers on the magnitude of Non Communicable Diseases in the country. Current opportunities for management and control of NCDs are also explored. In this review diseases such as diabetes and hypertension have been shown to have increased over the years. Prevalence of risk factors such as obesity, dyslipidemia and smoking has been shown to be high with clear gender and urban rural differences. Generally there is paucity of national representative data on the burden of risk factors and prevalence of non-communicable diseases. The main risk factors for NCDs namely smoking, alcohol intake, unhealthy diet and low physical activity are prevalent in both rural and urban communities. The socio-demographic and economic transition has a big role in the current rise of non-communicable diseases in Tanzania. There are initiatives to control the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country. However there is need to focus more on primary prevention at population level targeting interventions to reduce exposure to tobacco, reduce alcohol intake, reduce salt intake, promote healthy diets and physical activity. For the prevention and control of NCDs, there needs to be a continuum from primary to tertiary prevention and a scope of interventions from the community level up to the national level. Community-based interventions are needed targeting the risk factors for primary prevention. In addition, secondary prevention measures are needed targeting those at high risk to ensure that they are identified early through a high risk targeted screening for early identification and appropriate care. Effective policies are needed to support such interventions.