Chronic non-communicable disease as a new epidemic in Africa: focus on The Gambia
AbstractIntroduction: Recent epidemiological data suggest increasing burden of NCDs in many African countries but these diseases have not been given adequate attention due to the overwhelming burden of infectious diseases. There are no recent reports or studies on NCDs or related issues in The Gambia, consequently, this report intends to stimulate further epidemiological studies and also policy initiatives to forestall an epidemic. Methods: Routine data on morbidity (in and out-patients), hospitalisation and mortality due to NCDs from health facilities in The Gambia between 2008 and 2011 were used. Other relevant data from multiple sources were also used. Results: There is an increasing trend in the morbidity, hospitalisation and mortality due to NCDs in the Gambia between 2008 and 2011; 19.8%, 9.9% and 23.4% increments respectively. There is evidence of gender differences in these variables; more males suffer higher mortality from NCDs than females (p<0.001) while females suffer significantly higher morbidity and hospitalisation (p <0.001). Furthermore, there is dearth of highly skilled health workforce as well as poor health infrastructures in The Gambia. Conclusion: NCDs are becoming a public health challenge and the capacity to respond to NCDs in most African countries, particularly, The Gambia is very weak. There is need for a population-based study to accurately quantify the burden and their risk factors as a first step towards policy formulation and effective implementation. Furthermore, there is dire need for increased investments on health workforce as well as medical products and technologies towards addressing the consequences of this emerging epidemic.
Pan African Medical Journal 2013; 14: 87