NCDs and Disability Perspective During The IDD 2021

As Best Non-Communicable Diseases Zimbabwe (BeatNCDs Zim) we join the world in commemorating the International Day of Disability which is celebrated every year on the 4th of December. This year’s theme is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”  So as people living with NCDs(PLWNCDs) and people with disabilities(PWDs) we are taking the centre stage of this year’s commemoration by being meaningfully involved in unpacking the relationship between NCDs and disability.

By Jacob Ngwenya

Non-communicable diseases are diseases that are not transmitted from one person to the other but are chronic in nature such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health disorders among others. Disability a health condition causing a physical,psychological or cognitive impairment which can then lead to activity limitation and participation, restriction, including in work, social, and family life.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and disability are both common, and increasing in magnitude, as a result of population ageing and a shift in disease burden towards NCDs as communicable diseases, maternal and child care are getting enough attention.Moreover, disability and NCDs are strongly linked in a two-way association. People living with NCDs may develop impairments, which can cause activity limitations and participation restriction in the absence of supportive personal and environmental factors. In other words, NCDs may lead to disabilities.

At the same time, people with disabilities are more vulnerable to NCDs, because of their underlying health condition, and vulnerability to poverty and exclusion from healthcare services. NCD programmes must expand their focus beyond prevention and treatment to incorporate rehabilitation for people living with NCDs, in order to maximize their functioning and well-being.

Additionally, access to healthcare needs to be improved for people with disabilities so that they can  secure their right to preventive, curative and rehabilitation services. This calls for integration of both NCDs and disability services as they are both risk factors and consequences of each other and subsequently need preventative and curative therapy wherever and whenever applicable.

This year as we look at leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world, we need to tackle the current COVID-19 challenges we are facing. To face the post COVID-19 era we have to survive it now. Given the complexity of the terrible triplets NCDs, disability and COVID-19 we call for a more comprehensive approach to the three starting with research which will inform policy and programming which will reduce morbidity and mortality attributed to the troublesome trio.

A closer look to the risk factors of the three will always lead to nutrition as the common denominator and therefore we call for nutritional support for PWDs and PLWNCDs which will place them in a better place to fight the syndemic that they are facing. As we strife towards the universal health coverage let us not leave the PWDs and PLWNCDs behind.


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