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Non-communicable diseases number one threat to Africa's women


Amsterdam, March 18, 2013 – Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see a 27 percent in deaths from non-communicable disease, the highest in the world, over the next 10 years.

“In 2010, NCDs were responsible for 40% of all deaths in the WHO African Region and the WHO projects that they will exceed communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most common cause of death in Africa by 2025,” stated a report by Phillips Electronics.

The report termed Fabric of Africa Trends Report was aimed at strengthening healthcare services across Africa, focusing specifically on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), maternal and child health.

Cardiovascular disease is the second most common cause of death in Africa after infectious diseases, accounting for 11% of total deaths. The main causes are smoking, high blood pressure, decreased exercise and high cholesterol.

Cervical cancer is the number one cancer affecting African women.It accounts for 15% of female cancer cases, compared to just 3.6% in developed countries. Breast cancer is the second most common, accounting for 16.8% of all female cancers.

According to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry, cervical cancer affects about 30 percent of women in the country. Cervical cancer is caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). Although condoms are said to lower the risk of getting HPV, they do not prevent the risk of acquiring this virus completely. About 1,900 women are diagnosed with the disease every year in Zimbabwe and 1,300 die, according to the UN World Health Organisation.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see a greater increase in NCD related deaths than anywhere else in the world over the next 10 years, with an expected increase in death rate of 27% compared to an increase of 17% globally,” noted the report,

Women in Africa are also at significant risk of premature death, with particularly high mortality rates recorded in pregnancy.

At 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest maternal mortality rate across the continent and is not considered by the UN to be on track to achieve its MDG 5 target to reduce maternal mortality rate by 75% from 1990 to 2015.

“In 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than half (56%) of the 287,000 women who died in pregnancy across the world. Maternal deaths have mainly been the result of issues such as severe bleeding (hemorrhage) (24%), infection (sepsis) (15%), unsafe abortion (13%), eclampsia (12%), and obstructed labor (8%).”

Twenty-nine percent of global neonatal deaths occurred in Africa.

According to the most recent assessments by the UNDP, although the regional child mortality rate for Africa is declining, it is doing so too slowly and the region is ‘off track’ for meeting the MDG 4 aimed at reducing the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds from 1990-2015.

Children in Sub-Saharan Africa are 17 times more likely to die than in developed regions, with 1-in-8 dying before their fifth birthday.

A shortage of healthcare workers is also evident across the continent, for example, in Kenya there are only 2 doctors to care for every 10,000 people, compared to 24 doctors for every 10,000 people in the USA.

General Manager, Phillips Healthcare Africa,  Peter van de Ven, said: “This report highlights the huge amount of work to be done in improving access to healthcare across Africa, particularly for women.

“Through our Fabric of Africa campaign we again demonstrate our commitment to improving the healthcare infrastructure across the continent. We believe collaboration is the most effective way to create sustainable solutions.”

“We have extensive experience in developing programs with governments, NGOs, and other organizations and this campaign is a call to action to address the key issues dominating our trends report.”

Chief Medical Officer at Phillips Health Care, Doctor Eric Silfen, said: “The report details a near ‘perfect storm’ of critical health concerns and health system inadequacies that must be addressed by the world community. African women deserve vastly improved access to the kind of quality healthcare that most of us take for granted.”