Sustaining Increase in Life Expectancy in Africa Requires Active Preventive Measures against Non-Communicable Diseases


It is projected that aged population (≥60 years) will continue to increase globally, including in Africa. This is due to reduced population growth, decreased fecundity and improved medical interventions; factors which increase life expectancy. While this is typical for developed countries, it is not the same for Africa and similar developing regions. In these regions, a significant proportion of death is due to non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) such as hypertension, cerebrovascular accident, coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic renal disease and cancer, among others. Rising prevalence of NCD’s due mainly to western style diets and sedentary living is made worse by inadequate nutrition education, high prevalence of low birth weight, poor health services, lack of efficient tobacco control and deficient planning of built environment. In order to halt the possible reduction in life expectancy occasioned by NCD’s, efforts by the community, health planners and governments in Africa to address relevant NCD’s, must be put in place. Suggested measures are: nutrition education, regular community directed physical exercise, improved environmental planning and development. Others are review of present health service model, early detection, prevention and treatment of NCD’s, including improved antenatal care to reduce low birth weights, and establishment of policies and measures that decreased access to tobacco especially by women of childbearing age. Africa and similar developing regions cannot fund the health bill due to NCD’s and their complications; hence it is important that this scourge is attended to with all seriousness.

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Oghagbon, E. and Giménez-Llort, L. (2014) Sustaining Increase in Life Expectancy in Africa Requires Active Preventive Measures against Non-Communicable Diseases. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 283-292. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.45035.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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