Sub-Saharan Africa’s fast-changing disease profile.

As non-communicable diseases become more prevalent, the continent’s disease profile is evolving rapidly.

Africa has long been known for its continuous battles against infectious diseases including malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and Ebola. However, the continent has seen a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases in recent years, with diseases such as stroke, ischaemic heart disease, congenital birth defects, chronic liver diseases, and diabetes rising rapidly to become the top 5 leading causes of deaths due to non-communicable diseases. Driven by a multitude of factors such as dietary changes, decreasing physical activity, smoking, raised cholesterol, alcohol abuse and obesity, these are rapidly redefining the continent’s healthcare landscape.

In addition, the region is estimated to have hypertension prevalence of 48%, diabetes of 5.1%, and obesity of 20%. Alarmingly, these are projected to overtake infectious diseases as major sources of morbidity and mortality over the next decade. Furthermore, almost a quarter of Africans are at risk of stroke – the leading cause of death, disability and dementia the world over. Though measures can be introduced to proactively reduce the burden associated with non-communicable diseases, the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic earlier in the year has led to a refocus, as countries redirected efforts and limited resources towards curbing the virus’ spread.