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COVID-19 shadows NCD in Nepal

Binita Adhikari 

Non-communicable diseases are a major public health problem in Nepal accounting for around 60% of the total annual deaths in 2014 (WHO).The latest Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) Risk Factors STEPS Survey in Nepal 2019 shows that unhealthy behavior remains high amongst the Nepali people. 1/4th of the population suffer from hypertension - a major risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. So, due to the continuous lockdown and strict prohibitory order patients of hypertension and other Non-communicable diseases are skipping their routine health check ups.
Its already been more than five months since lockdown came into an action. Though at the present scenario lockdown has come to an end but the patients of NCDs are skipping their health check up due to fear of getting COVID-19 infection from the hospitals.Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It’s vital that our country Nepal should  find innovative ways to ensure that essential services for NCDs continue, even as they fight COVID-19.”Lockdowns, physical distancing and travel restrictions in many countries impact people living with NCDs in many ways, as people:
•    limit their physical activity;
•    have lower access to healthy and fresh foods;
•    have less access to preventive and health promotion services;
•    are more exposed to other NCD behavioural risk factors, including tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.

Prevention and treatment services for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have been severely disrupted since the COVID-19 pandemic began.According to a WHO survey released on June1,2020. The survey, which was completed by 155 countries during a 3-week period in May, confirmed that the impact is global, but that low-income countries are most affected
How can We Prevent and Control Non-Communicable diseases

1.    Physical activity 
•    WHO recommends Children and adolescents aged 5-17yearsShould do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
•     Adults aged 18–64 years Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. 
•    Adults aged 65 years and aboveShould do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

2.    Reducing Harmful use of Alcohol
3.    Consumptions of Fruits and Vegetable:
Including fruits and vegetables as part of the daily diet may reduce the risk of some NCDs including cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. More limited evidence suggests that when consumed as part of a healthy diet low in fat, sugars and salt/sodium, fruits and vegetables may also help to prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of obesity, an independent risk-factor for NCDs.
4.    Salt Reduction ;
For adults: WHO recommends that adults consume less than 5 g (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day .
For children: WHO recommends that the recommended maximum intake of salt for adults be adjusted downward for children aged two to 15 years based on their energy requirements relative to those of adults. This recommendation for children does not address the period of exclusive breastfeeding (0–6 months) or the period of complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding (6–24 months).

(Adhikari is Public Health Student at LA Grandee International College)

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