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Analytical summary - Risk factors for health

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Risk factors for health are well known and have been partly addressed in this profile. With respect to drug use, a huge substance abuse problem has been reported in Sierra Leone. About 90% of admissions to the only psychiatric hospital in Sierra Leone are due to drug-related illnesses. Substances that are not under international control, such as alcohol, tobacco and sedatives, are also widely used.[1]

Although Sierra Leone set up a multidisciplinary task force in 2007 to advocate for the country’s accession to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the country is yet to ratify this convention and enact polices regulating smoking in public places.[2]

Findings from the Sierra Leone global youth tobacco survey, 2008[3] indicate high levels of prevalence of tobacco use, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and pro-tobacco messages through media and advertising among adolescent school students. Moreover, the differences in gender tobacco use patterns that exist among the adult population are changing; the study found no statistical differences in prevalence of tobacco use between boys and girls.

There are other behaviour risk factors that need to be addressed.
Estimated prevalence of risk factors for health, 2008[4]

With regard to food consumption, including fruits and vegetables, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s Nutrition Unit has put in place a system for dietary counselling in all major hospitals. However, a system has not yet been developed for the promotion of physical exercise, an intervention critical for a healthy lifestyle, especially with respect to the control of obesity, hypertension and some metabolic diseases.[5]

Even in the absence of specific programmes, some information suggests the prevalence of some of these risk factors in the population (see table).[6]

References

  1. WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 2008–2013 Sierra Leone (pdf 943.71kb). Brazzaville, WHO Regional Office for Africa, 2009
  2. Kennedy N. The Sierra Leone global youth tobacco survey report (draft copy). Government of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, 2008
  3. Sierra Leone Western Area (ages 13─15) (pdf 47.63 kb). Global Youth Tobacco Survey fact sheet, 2008
  4. Noncommunicable diseases country profiles 2011 (pdf 1.98Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011
  5. Nutrition Unit report. Government of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, 2010
  6. Noncommunicable diseases country profiles 2011 (pdf 1.98Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011