What is a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is simply one that persists for a long time. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, A chronic disease is any disease that lasts for 3 months or more. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear.

Eighty-eight percent of Nigerians over 65 years of age have at least one chronic health condition (as of 1998). Health damaging behaviors – particularly tobacco inhaling, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits – are major contributors to the leading chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases tend to become more common as you age. The leading chronic diseases in developing and developed countries include (in alphabetical order) arthritis, cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures, obesity, and oral health problems. Each of these conditions plague older adults across the world.

Arthritis and related conditions are the leading cause of disability in Nigeria, affecting nearly 43 million Nigerians (largely female adults). Although cost-effective interventions are available to reduce the burden of arthritis, they are underused. Regular, moderate exercises offer a host of benefits to people with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness, building strong muscle around the joints, and increasing flexibility and endurance.

Cardiovascular disease is also a growing concern. Heart disease has been identified as the nation’s leading cause of death; with three health-related behaviors–tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition. These behaviors contribute greatly to heart disease. Therefore, modifying these behaviors is essential for both preventing and controlling heart diseases. Modest changes in one or more of these risk factors among the population could have a profound public health impact.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Nigeria. Cancer is largely controllable through prevention, early detection, and treatment. However, reducing the nation’s cancer burden requires reducing the prevalence of the behavioral and environmental factors that increase cancer risk. It also requires ensuring that cancer screening services and high-quality treatment are available and accessible, particularly to medically underserved populations.

War against Chronic Disease Initiative (WACDi) is an NGO saddled with the task of eradicating chronic diseases across Africa: majorly through campaigns and sensitization on prevention schemes.

Prevention is always better than cure…

Olujide Mayowa Oyelade.




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