CHRONIC NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES IN ETHIOPIA– A HIDDEN BURDEN
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It is only relatively recently that chronic non- communicable disease in low-income countries has started to receive the attention that it deserves. The Millennium Development Goals, which have dominated the global health agenda for the last decade, did not include chronic disease, but in 2005 a World Health Organization report drew attention to the neglect of chronic disease (1) and in 2011 chronic non- communicable disease was the subject of a United Nations high-level meeting (2). The linked articles from Jimma University and collaborators published in this issue are timely and serve to highlight the problem of chronic non-communicable disease in Ethiopia (3,4). The research team from Jimma conducted a cross sectional study of chronic disease and risk factors for chronic disease in 4,469 adults from the population around Gilgel Gibe Field Research Centre in southwest Ethiopia using the World Health Organization’s STEPS protocol. They found an overall prevalence of chronic disease of 8.9% (diabetes 0.5%, cardiac disease 3%, hypertension 2.6%, asthma 1.5%, epilepsy 0.5%, depression 1.7%), and 80% of the subjects studied had at least one risk factor for chronic disease. The data on prevalence of chronic diseases were dependent on subjects reporting that they had been given a diagnosis by a health professional. When a sample was screened for hypertension and diabetes, the prevalence of hypertension was found to be 3.5 times higher than that reported by the subjects and the prevalence of diabetes six times higher, indicating a large hidden burden of disease.