Africa Sees Rise In Lifestyle Illnesses

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 22, 2016 09:36 AM EST

There is a growing number of Africans suffering from cancer, one of the lifestyle diseases. Along with diabetes and heart problems, cancer has been noted to be increasingly deadly on Africa.

According to a survey released by the World Health Organization, most Africans had at least one risk factor for developing one of the those diseases. Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and obesity are all contributing factors to the development of the deadly illnesses

Being East Africa's biggest city, Nairobi's urban lifestyle shows workers spending long hours in traffic, sitting behind desks all day, visiting shopping malls during weekends, and consuming western junk foods like hamburgers and pizza.

In the 33 countries surveyed by WHO, most adults did not follow the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Unlike the case in the west, Africa's tobacco, alcohol and food industries have not yet adapted well to growing health-consciousness.

"They see Africa as a fertile ground because of the legislation and policy weaknesses that exist in our region, they see opportunity to make a lot of profit," said report author Abdikamal Alisalad.

Faraja's patient support manager, Philip Ouma, said that contrary to previous belief that people in the middle-class are the most affected, he noted that findings reveal a lot of people who were affected were poor.

WHO said that by 2020, some four million people will die from noncommunicable diseases in Africa, surpassing those of infectious diseases by 2030.

Africa also has poor public hospitals that are barely capable of handling normal healthcare challenges.

Patients in Kenya's main government hospital often find themselves on a waiting list for up to a year to get access to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

In a local television report earlier this year, dozens of cancer patients from far-flung areas sleep on the floor of the hospital because they have no place to go in between therapy sessions.

"Meanwhile private hospitals have machines that are lying idly because they are expensive but the majority of people cannot afford them so it is a big problem," said Ouma.

There were also patients from Uganda who have flocked to Kenya after the country's only radiotherapy machine broke down in April. Patients from other places like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Madagascar and the Seychelles have also come to Nairobi for treatment. However, those who cannot afford to avail of the treatments or go to hospitals far from their place chose to just stay home.

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