Lifestyle crisis worries docs

Thursday March 17 2016

A child eating fatty food as he watches

A child eating fatty food as he watches television. Doctors say such lifestyle is a risk factor for diabetes and cancer. PHOTO | AGENCIES 

By Syriacus Buguzi @buguzi

Dar es Salaam. Rapid urbanization and growth of technology are slowly but dangerously changing people’s lifestyles—much to the concern of many local and global health experts.

As society gets caught up in the love for convenience through use of technology—coupled with the desire to a live a modern life—an ominous trend of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cancer, is rearing its ugly head.

Today, most parents have found pride in taking their children out for chips, roasted chicken and sweet carbonated soft drinks, and the trend continues without them realizing that children are also now becoming victims of the ethically wanting lifestyles.

As global health experts convene in Dar es Salaam to discuss ways of rescuing people from the public health dilemma, a study conducted in the country shows that 9.1 per cent of Tanzanians are diabetic and 29 per cent have high blood pressure, and this trend cuts across all ages.

A 2012 study, conducted in 50 districts of the country, established that Tanzania was eighth among ten countries in Africa with high prevalence of diabetes, the experts noted yesterday.

Dr Kaushik Ramaiya, a specialist on diabetes in the country, is teaming up with the experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Word Diabetes Foundation (WDF) to try and ponder on how best to tackle the menacing health crisis. Yesterday, he told journalists that Tanzanians were capable of preventing high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and chronic lungs diseases if they adopted the habit of going for regular medical checkups and doing physical exercises.

By the year 2040, the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) estimates that one in 10 adults worldwide will have diabetes (642 million) and diabetes-related health expenditures will exceed 802 billion US Dollars, if no interventions will be instituted early. Dr Kaushick said, “The cost of treating such diseases is high but it’s cheaper to prevent them. Eating traditional foods instead of tinned fast foods is healthier. But governments should also intervene to try and raise public awareness on this.’’

After every six seconds, a person dies of diabetes and the annual death rates exceed those from malaria, TB and HIV combined. However, government policies and the health budgets are much in favour of infectious diseases.

Professor Ayoub Magimba, rom the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly, told The Citizen yesterday that the government has adopted a strategic plan which will focus on preventing, early detection and treatment of such lifestyles diseases. “We are tackling the two types of diseases at a go. Non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases all have a place in the country’s budgetary plans,” he said.