The Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance, Nigeria, an NGO, on Thursday unveiled eight champions for People Living with NCDs (PLWNCDs), to create awareness about the diseases in the country.
Dr Kingsley Akinroye, Vice President, NCD Alliance, Nigeria, told the newsmen at the launch in Lagos, those PLWNCDs must come together to advocate and negotiate with decision makers on issue that affect their lives.
Akinroye said that non-communicable diseases are the most common causes of death and disability worldwide, accounting for over 70 per cent of all deaths.
According to him, the main NCDs include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetics, chronic respiratory disease, mental health, sickle cell disease and neurological disorders such as dementia.
“Today we are training NCDs lead samplings. We now have eight lead sampling in the area of NCDs for advocacies. We have two each from Bauchi, Enugu, Lagos and Osun State.
“These are people that are going to drive activities for PLWNCDs in the country. We are expecting them to develop the plan on what they want to do in their states,” he said.
Akintoye said that the champions had a lot of roles to play in the struggle to reduce risks of NCDs and crises being faced by PLWNCDs.
He added: “They will be working with the parliaments, commissioners of health, organisations like WHO among others.
“They have a big role to play; if they had been in existence during COVID-19 pandemic, the PLWNCDs would not have suffered what they suffered.
“We intend to move the NCDs care and treatment forward because nobody is looking at them like malaria and they are the major causes of death.
“No many people know they are in existence but with these people, they can get attention.”
He added that if PLWNCDs came together, they could make decision-makers more accountable to reduce the number of people dying of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetics, hypertension, sickle cells and others.
According to Akinroye, in July 2020, the organisation got 40 PLWNCDs from each state through their ministry of health and afterward, they were reduced to two per state.
He said that PLWNCDs coached and developed them to sensitise people on NCDs.
Contributing, Dr Annette Akinsete, the National Coordinator/CEO of Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, said that there was need for PLWNCDs to come together to have a voice.
Akinsete, who noted that the time was ripe to help the suffering PLWNCDs, urged the governments to help their care and treatment.
According to her, apart from the disorder being faced by the PLWNCDS, many of them are still being faced with the challenge of means of livelihood.
Speaking on behalf of the champions, Mr Ibrahim Yalwaji, the Bauchi State Champion, said that PLWNCDs should be given a voice in the decision making process to ameliorate their crisis.
Yalwaji said: “We are aware, NCDs have no respect for age, place or status; and affect old, young, rich, and poor in villages and cities, the privileged, the vulnerable and recently those affected by COVID-19.
“We are Nigerians living with NCDs and our voices must be heard. In 2018, in Nigeria, 29 per cent of deaths were due to NCDs: 617, 300 Nigerians died from NCDs.
“We stand for action; so many lives can be saved.
“We may come from diverse backgrounds with a multitude of life and professional experiences but our firm desire to fight for our lives and those of generation unborn unite us.
“Though we live with different NCDs, our diseases bind us together. We are human beings who are entitled to respect, dignity and the right to live with joy.
“We share our sufferings, challenges with our families and friends,’’ he said.
According to Yalwaji, PLWNCDs suffer from lack of diagnosis, high cost of treatment, lack of treatment options, inability to complete treatment, limited time with doctors, inability to access doctors and isolation from families and friends.
It was reported that the event featured training sessions for PLWNCDs on advocacies, responsibilities and meaningful involvement of PLWNCDs to cater for the vulnerable.