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Africa’s non-communicable disease burden

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) continue to be a leading cause of death in Africa. Unhealthy lifestyles are a key risk factor leading to the increasing prevalence of NCDs. A shortage of medical specialists and overburdened health systems make it difficult to access appropriate care. Where available the care is often too expensive for the average citizen to afford. Liberty Health intends to contribute and support the much-needed change across the continent.

“At Liberty Health, we facilitate access to healthcare and intend to promote health-related change in the African countries in which we operate,” says Andrew Schwulst, CEO of Liberty Health. “Our wellness programmes aim to improve the members’ general knowledge of how some common NCDs can be prevented and managed more effectively. These include high blood pressure, obesity, lifestyle-induced diabetes, and cardiovascular problems,” says Schwulst.

NCDs account for more deaths and illnesses in Africa, than any transmittable disease. Figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that within the next decade, 28-million people in Africa will die from cardiovascular illness, diabetes, and other NCDs – most of which are chronic and lifestyle related. According to the WHO, these and other conditions will account for 46% of all deaths in Africa by 2030. “It is important to note that many of these deaths are preventable. People often don’t realise how their daily lifestyle choices impact their bodies and minds. Many of these have become deeply entrenched habits,” says Schwulst.

To achieve this, the health insurer has established a broad network of contracted healthcare providers across the continent supported by Liberty Health’s Disease and Pharmacy Benefit Management programme to manage and treat chronic diseases. “Our screening and wellness related tools are designed to help our clients make healthier choices, in terms of food, exercise, and stress management,” says Schwulst.

Making people aware of the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and the consequences of NCDs is particularly important for employers and business owners. The majority of patients that are affected by NCDs, are between the ages of 18-45. This is the most important segment of a country’s workforce. Research has shown that a healthy workforce is more productive, and results in lower corporate healthcare costs, lower absentee levels, and less medical leave. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Liberty Health’s product offering covers medication for over a hundred NCDs, including those that are not per se lifestyle-related. Not all NCDs can be prevented by eating right or exercising – a number of conditions can manifest when least expected, regardless of one’s lifestyle; epilepsy or asthma for instance. Schwulst: “Whilst these are not usually fatal, they can be quite expensive to manage if one has to pay for treatment out of one’s own pocket – let alone conditions like cancer”. Liberty Health provides cover for all aspects of treatment including consultations, pathology, medication and additional support, which is provided by registering on the Chronic Disease Programme. “Believing that prevention is better than the cure, our philosophy is to ensure appropriate management of chronic diseases to avoid unnecessary hospitalisation,” says Schwulst.

ENDS

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Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Samantha Wright

samantha@be-cause.co.za

021 447 1082 / 072 4444 267

 

Distributed on behalf of Liberty Health

Lynette Erasmus: Head of Marketing, Health

 

 

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