WINDHOEK – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged Namibia to act on the upsurge in chronic diseases in the country, with revelations that 45 percent of Namibians suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure.
WHO country representative, Dr Monir Islam, says Namibia needs to address the situation in order to prevent monumental crisis at a later stage.
“Either they don’t know or they are taking medication,” he said, in reference to sufferers of chronic diseases attributed to bad eating habits and a lack of exercise.
Islam noted that 10 percent of Namibians have diabetes. He also noted cases of cardiovascular (heart) diseases are on the increase.
“That burden is going to grow and once you are having a non-communicable (chronic) disease, it is lifelong. He stressed the need for early diagnosis of these chronic diseases, noting that if people are treated late, complications may arise which makes treatment even more difficult.
“We need to prevent these diseases,” he said.
He stressed that many Namibians are living unhealthy lifestyles.
“Namibians like salt like nothing. They eat a lot of salt,” he said. Islam added that Namibians equally love sweet food as well as fast food but with little physical exercise, which is partly why chronic diseases are on the increase.
To solve this problem, Islam suggests people should change their negative attitudes and that it should not be business as usual.
He said there should be deliberate programmes to address this problem. Part of this, he noted is to encourage voluntary regular testing for glucose and blood pressure to diagnose some of these diseases earlier and in other cases to give counselling on healthy living.
“It’s (chronic diseases) a big, big issue, if we don’t do it now the cost for that will be very high later. For the next coming years, we need to do things differently,” Islam stressed.