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Chronic diseases on the rise

Strategies against the silent epidemic

Until a few years ago, hunger and infectious diseases were still considered the main problems in poorer countries. Today, non-communicable, chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are among the most frequent causes of death worldwide: deaths from strokes or heart attacks are already more frequent in Africa than those from malaria, for example. Especially people living with a disability are affected by chronic diseases at above-average rates. However, medical care for chronically ill people is poor in many African countries, and many diseases are left undiagnosed for a long time. In addition to prevention, early diagnosis and therapy are important.

Difäm Worldwide supports its partner organisations in their efforts to integrate holistic care for the chronically ill into their health systems and promotes the treatment of non-communicable and chronic diseases as well as the education on their development and prevention.

Chronic diseases - diseases of affluence?

With the rise in average age and growing urbanisation, we can expect a further increase in chronic diseases. This is mainly caused by a change in lifestyle, changes in diet and a decrease in exercise. These factors increase the risk of developing a chronic disease. However, high blood pressure and diabetes, for example, are not purely "diseases of affluence". Particularly poor people often cannot afford a healthy lifestyle with a high-quality and balanced diet.

Medical care for chronically ill people is still poor in many African countries and the medical knowledge of health personnel and the population is low. As a result, many patients remain undiagnosed for a long time. In addition to further education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of non-infectious, chronic diseases, early and low-threshold screening is necessary in order to avoid consequential damage and to maintain quality of life. Preventive offers such as sports and nutrition programmes must be considered as part of health care. A sufficient supply of high-quality medicines is essential for therapy. This is also important in cancer and palliative medicine.