Experts urge solution-based research to fight NCDs surge in Tanzania

The biological NCD risk factors that are prevalent include excess body weight, hypertension and diabetic issues. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Experts have been warning that by the year 2027 deaths from NCDs will surge to 54 percent, but the situation can be contained through solution-based research to help in the formulation of relevant policies

Dar es Salaam. Health experts have been challenged to conduct more research that provide solutions for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in a bid to reverse the rising trend of the related cases in Tanzania.

Warnings have been issued over reports that come 2027 deaths due to NCDs would surge to 54 percent.

It was on these grounds that the government yesterday challenged the experts to come up with solutions emanating from research on how to reverse the situation.

Saddened by a double-digit rise in cases of NCDs, the government recently issued the directives to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) and health sector officials.

Official figures from the Health ministry show that in 2018, a total of four million Tanzanians were diagnosed with various NCDs but the number rose by 19 percent to 4.7 million in 2020.

Also, ongoing studies within the ministry indicate the presence of a large number of patients with high blood pressure at 26 percent, while more than 90 percent of these patients are not receiving treatment.

The last study conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2018 showed that 33 percent of all deaths in the country were caused by these diseases.

Further, while launching the National NCDs Research Agenda, carried out in collaboration with the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas), government Chief Medical Officer Aifelo Sichalwe yesterday said the area still lacked enough research to inform policies.

“Researchers with master’s and doctoral degrees and research institutions should focus more on conducting research on NCDs because the diseases are an epidemic. We really need the studies to come up with answers so that these would inform the policies we formulate,” said Dr Sichalwe.

For his part, the director of Medicine in the Ministry of Health, Dr Omary Ubuguyu, said that despite the strategies to prevent such diseases, they would continue to surge unless there were efforts to ensure that the victims survived, as was the case in some countries, including Japan.

“We want to control these diseases early, a person should be identified early and treated, we want people under the age of 70 not to die of these diseases,” said Dr Ubuguyu.

The secretary of the Tanzania Non-Communicable Diseases Associations (TANCDA), Prof Kaushik Ramaiya, said that research agenda on NCDs should be a priority.

“We need the next five years to have a research agenda and answers on what to do to fight these diseases, currently we do not have the capacity to deal with NCDs yet by the year 2027, 54 percent of deaths will be from NCDs,” he said.

The chairman of the association of diabetics in the country, Prof Andrew Swai said the country needs statistics to guide the government and stakeholders to set priorities on where and how to start.