Growing and Consuming Local Foods Urged to Combat Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa

African News

Africans have been called upon to cultivate and consume locally grown foods as a preventive measure against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This important message comes from Dana Weiner, the Director of the Division of Nutrition for Sheba in Israel, who was addressing participants at the 2nd Annual African Conference on Health Risk Reduction in Marrakech, Morocco, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Weiner emphasized the significance of Africans sticking to their traditional diets, citing foreign foods as a leading cause of the rising NCD rates on the continent. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2022 Noncommunicable Disease Progress Monitor highlights that between 50% and 88% of deaths in seven African countries, primarily small island nations, are attributed to noncommunicable diseases. Additionally, seven other countries, including some of Africa’s most populous, experience annual deaths ranging from 100,000 to 450,000 due to these diseases.

The increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases raises concerns about the strain on healthcare and treatment services. For example, the African region is projected to have 47 million people living with diabetes by 2045, up from 19 million in 2019. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, warns that these diseases pose a grave threat to millions in Africa, accounting for over a third of deaths in the region, with a growing number of premature deaths among those under 70.

Dana Weiner’s message emphasizes the importance of returning to traditional diets to combat diseases like diabetes and obesity, often associated with dietary choices that are not suited to the African region. She encourages Africans to grow their own food, emphasizing that it is a healthier option and doesn’t require significant financial resources.

The 3-day conference aims to address the current state of healthcare and food security in Africa, with a primary objective of establishing an African framework based on the experiences of African nations and insights from public health experts. The conference’s focus is on effective preventive measures to mitigate the impacts of human, social, political, and economic crises on healthcare and nutrition in the region.