Reducing Mortality in NCDs a Priority

Reducing Mortality  in NCDs a PriorityReducing Mortality  in NCDs a Priority

Mortality rate in the 30-70 years group in the country is high with statistics indicating that 25% of the total deaths registered are among people in this age bracket, prompting health officials to devise plans to prevent the high mortality rate.

The likelihood of premature mortality from the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) between ages 30 and 70 years is 17% in Iran.

Reducing mortality among people in this age group is a top priority of the health sector, said Mohammad Esmaeil Motlaq, director general of Family, Population and Schools Health Department at the Ministry of Health, addressing a workshop in this regard at the Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran.

The ministry will study the situation and classify the categories and reasons so as to set priorities in funding to help prevent the high death rate, he said, reported.

The move is in line with the targets set by the World Health Organization as well as Iran’s National Document in Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) which aim to address the key risk factors and reduce mortality in the aforementioned age group within 10 years (2015-2025).

Globally, 38 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70; almost three-quarter of these “premature” deaths or 28 million occur in low and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.5 million people annually, followed by cancers (8.2 million), respiratory diseases (4 million), and diabetes (1.5 million).

These 4 groups of diseases account for 82% of all NCD deaths worldwide. Although NCDs are often associated with older age groups, but evidence shows that 16 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD.

Experts in Iran believe that the mechanical lifestyle especially in large cities with daily stress, lack of physical activity and changes in eating habits like greater consumption of junk food as against home-made  meals, as well as widespread use of cigarettes and tobacco are among the main factors that have inflated the risks of NCDs.   

Pointing to the goals of the national document, Motlaq said one of the main targets is to reduce deaths caused by cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders by 25%.

Improving physical exercise, reducing salt consumption and smoking by 30%, high blood pressure by 25% as well as controlling obesity and diabetes are among other objectives. The level of trans fatty acids in cooking oil and other food products will also be reduced to zero.

  All Vulnerable to Risk Factors

Children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to the risk factors that contribute to NCDs, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity or exposure to tobacco smoke. These diseases are driven by forces that include ageing, disorganized urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. For example, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles like unhealthy diets may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids, and obesity, says the WHO.

Low-cost solutions exist to reduce the common risk factors (mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity) by creating healthy public policies that promote NCD prevention and control and reorienting health systems to address the needs of people with such diseases. Other ways to reduce NCDs are “high impact essential NCD interventions that can be delivered through a primary healthcare approach to strengthen early detection and timely treatment,” says the global health watchdog.

  Availability of Medicine

“Efforts will be made to ensure that medicines and basic technologies for treatment of NCDs are available to everyone. At least 70% of people will have access to consultancy and drugs for the prevention of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular ailments,” Motlaq further said.

To achieve these goals, it is essential that the ministries of science and education as well as the Literacy Movement Organization cooperate to help raise awareness and promote self care among all social strata.

Baqer Larijani, deputy chief of the Iranian Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention Committee, called on all government entities to cooperate as the Health Ministry alone will not be able to shoulder the huge task, reported.

“The national document pursues 13 objectives of which reducing trans fatty acids, traffic death toll, addiction and mental health are regarded as top priorities,” said Larijani who is also a deputy health minister.      

Based on the WHO rankings, Iran stands first in the region and the fourth in the world vis-à-vis prevention and control of NCDs. It is also among the ten countries to have devised a strategic plan for the purpose.

The National Document for Prevention and Control of NCDs was unveiled in July 2015 in the presence of WHO Director-General Margaret Chan during her visit to Tehran. It was ratified later by the government and took effect in February this year.