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African Governments, Partners Should Work Together, Employ ‘Concrete Measures’ To Prevent Obesity, NCDs

Bloomberg: Obesity Is Now Africa’s Health Care Crisis, Too
Kasumi Iwase, managing director of AfricaScan Inc.

“When it comes to health issues in Africa, people think of chronic hunger, or infectious diseases such as malaria or HIV/AIDS. But Africa is simultaneously struggling with an increase in noncommunicable diseases, most of them related to obesity. … The best solution to these problems is the prevention and early diagnosis of NCDs. … Awareness of the importance of prevention is starting to grow. However, bold measures are needed by giving priority to tackling obesity as one of the main drivers as NCDs. Many of those living in Africa do not know their health status and, even when they do, they’re not sure how to respond. In small towns, for example, there is only a limited selection of healthy foods in the stores, and they are generally more expensive. Concrete measures such as taxes on sugary drinks, food labeling, and restricting advertising around unhealthy foods have made a difference in other countries. These measures should be the focus at the Tokyo International Conference of African Development later this year. It is this kind of [‘harambee,’ a term used in Kenya that means to work together to overcome difficulties,] that African governments and Western partners should be focused on” (3/19).