The Minister of Health John Seakgosing says that over the years the world has observed a general increase in Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). These include cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, chronic and respiratory diseases which when combined are responsible for 63% of all the deaths in the world, Minister Seakgosing stated when officially opening the NDC conference in Gaborone recently.
“Botswana carried out a national survey in 2007 among 4000 adults aged 25-64 and it showed that 20 % of them were smokers, 38 % were overweight and obese and the average fruit and vegetable serving was found to be below one per day and in addition 50 % of drinkers reported binge drinking,” Dr. Seakgosing noted
He said that the country has registered an increasing number of diseases from different studies and surveys with more people involved in risky behaviours such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity that contribute to the development of NCDs.
If not well controlled and managed, non communicable diseases can have debilitating effects which hamper the individual from being able to work to their full potential to care for their loved ones in an appropriate manner and can also bring economic costs to the families, the community and country at large.
In 2002 The Ministry of Health established a NCDs programme in the Disease Control Division of the Public Health Department to design and implement programmes geared towards the prevention and control of NCDs. “In collaboration with our partners, we have developed a strategic plan to address NCDs and within this plan, there are several strategic objectives such as implementing effective policies, promoting effective interventions, strengthening surveillance on NCDs and the related risk factors and strengthening health systems.”
He pointed out that they were currently working to ensure that the current policy that governs tobacco use in Botswana is in line with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Applauding the government’s 40 % tax levy on alcohol and the reduced trading hours and steeper penalties for alcohol related offences, the minister said that he was planning to urge the government to increase tax on tobacco and decrease the same on fruits and vegetables.