Non-communicable diseases in Africa: Youth are key to curbing the epidemic and achieving sustainable development
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, are now the leading cause of death in most regions of the world. Africa, home to 54 low- and middle-income countries, is expected to have the world’s largest increase in NCD deaths over the next decade. This will impose a significant burden to the continent, which is also projected to see its population double within the next generation. In most countries in North Africa, NCDs are already responsible for more than three-quarters of all deaths.
Although communicable diseases and other conditions still predominate in sub-Saharan Africa, NCDs are projected to become the leading cause of death by 2030. Nearly half of the population in this region already suffers from hypertension (high blood pressure), a well-established precursor to NCDs such as heart attacks and strokes. Unless urgent action is taken, the growing NCD epidemic will add tremendous pressure to already overstretched health systems and pose a major challenge to development in Africa.