Policy to tame lifestyle diseases launched

The National Policy and Multisectoral Plan for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) was launched by the Ministry of Health (MoH) here on Sunday. Launched under the auspices of HH Sayyid Shihab bin Tareq al Said, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan, the national plan aims to reduce the premature deaths resulting from non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025. It focuses on combating four main diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. The plan addresses the main risk factors, including lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet and smoking, as well as the raising of awareness.

It contains eight chapters addressing various aspects of prevention/ control of NCDs in the Sultanate. All the relevant sectors were involved in developing the plan, which was revised by the World Health Organization team and translated into English. Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, said in his speech that the plan is a result of nearly two years of collective work involving all the relevant health sectors, besides national and international partners. “This work has yielded a clear national policy, which has developed into a comprehensive national plan that addresses priorities and challenges facing the health system in the Sultanate,” he said.

He said NCDs are a “real risk and one of the biggest challenges to the development in the 21st century as they represent the major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. “According to WHO, these diseases kill 38 million people annually, half of them under the age of 70. Among NCDs, cardiovascular diseases cause most deaths (17.5 million) every year, followed by cancer (8.2 million), respiratory diseases (4 million) and diabetes (1.5 million),” he said. As per the 2016 statistics, 72.9 per cent of deaths in the Sultanate have been attributed to NCDs, of which 24.3 per cent are due to cardiovascular diseases/ hypertension, 7 per cent due to cancer and 2.2 per cent due to diabetes. Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of WHO, said that Oman has witnessed a dramatic transition in the burden of diseases.

“NCDs are now the leading cause of premature mortality in the country. More than half of Omanis are overweight or obese. One in four Omani adults have high blood pressure.” According to him, the prevalence of diabetes has increased by almost 50 per cent since 1991.“This is devastating not only from the human point of view. It has a devastating economic impact, both in terms of costs of treating people with long-term illnesses and lost productivity.” “NCDs account for seven of the 10 causes of death globally and responsible for 70 per cent of deaths worldwide. Every year, NCDs kill millions people in the prime of their life (between the ages 30 and 70).“The tragedy is that much of the suffering is totally preventable.

We know what the answers are: stop tobacco use, reduce salt intake, consume less sugar, eliminate industrial trans-fats and treat more people for high blood pressure,” he said. The launch ceremony included two sessions with participation from a number of government departments. A video screened on the importance of the national policy showed the efforts of the national committee in reviewing achievements of the ministry as well as the six strategies of the national policy.

Zainab al Nassri