Oman’s Ministry of Health on Sunday launched the National Policy and Multi-Sectoral Plan for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The national plan aims to reduce the number of early deaths resulting from NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025. It contains eight chapters addressing the various aspects of prevention and control NCDs in the Sultanate.
It focuses on combating four main diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. The plan also addresses the main risk factors, including lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet, and smoking.
Ahmad Al Saidi, the Minister of Health, said the project was the result of collective work lasting nearly two years, involving the health sectors and a number of national and international partners. “This work has yielded a national policy that subsequently developed into a comprehensive national plan to address the priorities and challenges of the health system in the country,” he said.
He added that the risk from NCDs is real and that NCDs were one of the biggest obstacles to development in the 21st century.
They are the major cause of obesity and death globally. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), these diseases kill 38 million people annually; half of them are under the age of 70.
Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of most deaths resulting from the NCDs, accounting for 17.5 million deaths every year, followed by the cancer (8.2 million deaths), deaths from respiratory diseases (4 million) and diabetes (1.5 million).
In Oman, 72.9 per cent of deaths are attributed to NCDs, of which 24.3 per cent are due to the cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, 7% due to cancer, and 2.2 per cent diabetes, according to 2016 statistics.
The health minister also pointed out that the Ministry was pursuing strengthening the participation of all related sectors, and in accordance to the recommendations of the Council of Ministers, a ministerial decision was taken in 2015 on formulation of a National Committee for Non-Communicable Diseases headed by the MOH Undersecretary for Planning Affairs.
The National Committee aims to enhance and unify all the efforts of the government and private sector, as well as the community civil associations in non-communicable diseases prevention and control.
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Oman has witnessed a dramatic escalation; NCDs are now the leading cause of premature mortality in this country.
“More than half of all Omanis are now overweight or obese. One in 4 Omani adults have high blood pressure. The prevalence of diabetes has increased by almost 50 per cent since 1991. This is not only devastating from a human point of view. It also has a devastating economic impact, both in terms of the costs of treating people with long-term illnesses, and in terms of lost productivity,” he said.
He also added that NCDs are 7 of the top 10 causes of death globally, and are responsible for 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide. Every year, NCDs kill 15 million people in the prime of life, between the ages of 30 and 70.
He further said that he tragedy is that much of this suffering is totally preventable, if people stop tobacco use, reduce salt intake, consume less sugar, eliminate industrial trans-fats and take treatment for high blood pressure.