Africa must reboot its health systems to cope with non-communicable diseases

When it comes to killer diseases in Africa many people think of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, or even Ebola. But the reality is that diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease – known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – are a major threat.

It’s estimated that there will be about 3.9 million deaths from these diseases in Africa by 2020.

The rising burden will have an impact not only on people’s health. It will also affect economic productivity and the social fabric of societies. This is why there’s been an increasing focus on NCDs – they’re been included in the Sustainable Development Goals and will be the focus of the upcoming World Health Assembly.

But African policymakers can only make headway if the performance of health systems are measured. This is particularly true given the limited resources they have. This would help them come up with more effective and efficient health interventions, which in turn will enable them to plan better and work faster to save more lives.

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