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Experts seek more efforts to tackle non-communicable diseases

Update: May, 14/2015 - 16:10
Cancer patients at the Da Nang General Hospital. Cancer, one of non communicable diseases, kills 70,000 people yearly in Viet Nam. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Health experts have called for more efforts to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer and diabetes, which have been increasing worldwide, including in Viet Nam during recent years.

"Of every ten deaths in Viet Nam, seven are caused by NCDs, mainly being cardiological, cancer, and diabetes diseases," said deputy minister Nguyen Thanh Long at a conference this morning on the current situation and policies for NCD prevention and control in Viet Nam.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that the country reported 520,000 fatalities in 2012, of which 73 per cent were caused by NCDs.

World Health Organisation representative Socorro Escalante said NCDs would continue to worsen in Viet Nam due to high salt and alcohol consumption, and an especially alarming smoking rate among adult males.

"NCDs are the future already occurring in Viet Nam," stressed Escalante.

"Globally, NCDs accounts for 68 per cent of global deaths and 42per cent of premature mortality, while NCDs already account for 75 per cent of all deaths in Viet Nam," said Escalante.

"If NCD disorders are diagnosed early, and effectively managed at the primary health care level, the cost will be minimum while the people with NCD disorders can live a healthy, active life and can continue to be productive for society," stressed Escalante.

The WHO representative said that NCDs were a multi-sector problem and can only be effectively dealt with through a multi-sector approach lead by the government, with support from all relevant sectors and stakeholders.

Escalante suggested that Viet Nam should improve NCD management at the primary healthcare level to provide effective and cost effective detection and management of early stage NCD disorders.

It is necessary to strengthen capacity and remove bottlenecks in the health insurance mechanism for continuing management of early cases of NCDs. It would also be important to empower and increase knowledge and skills for the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle and perform self-management for NCD conditions.

At the workshop, participants heard that hypertension was a fast-rising concern and already affected more than 20 per cent of the adult population, while the diabetes rate has doubled in the past 10 years. Not only do they cause premature deaths, but NCDs also results in dangerous complications, such as paralysis, blindness, kidney failure and amputations that lead to serious disabilities.

The Ministry of Health statistics showed that Viet Nam has about 12.5 million hypertension cases, 2.5 million diabetes patients and more than 2 million people with COPD and asthma. The country reported about 125,000 new cancer cases and some 70,000 annual deaths due to cancer.

WHO estimated that, globally, NCDs would cause US$30,000 billion in productivity losses in the next 20 years. In Viet Nam, the total economic loss by NCDs is not yet available, but losses due to tobacco use alone are estimated to be more than $1 billion per year. — VNS

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