Blog - Engage Africa Foundation

Home / Blog / NCDs and Migration in the Sahel: The Physical and Mental Tolls

NCDs and Migration in the Sahel: The Physical and Mental Tolls


Workers carry the aid provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) for distribution in Pissila, Burkina Faso. Jan 24, 2020.  Photo provided by VOANews.

NCDs and Migration in the Sahel: The Physical and Mental Tolls


The pressures of being a migrant in the Sahel can increasingly take their toll on the body and mind. This section of the continuing “NCDs and Migration in the Sahel” series will examine the physical and mental impact that living as a migrant in the Sahel has brought.  This section will first brief how strenuous activity may push a human body to its limits physically, and the potential health liabilities this may bring. Secondly, it will examine mental strain and its impact it has on the resolve of migrants, and the liabilities it brings to the health of migrants. Both physical and mental impacts will shed light on increased rates of untreated or unidentified NCDs in the Sahel. Following the briefings on general impact, this section will identify some specific problems and causes of these strains in the Sahel region and provide suggestions to how they may be managed through both a policy perspective and a relief perspective.


Background into Physical and Mental Tolls

                Throughout most of the word physical activity is shown to be a positive indicator to the health of a person. If the person is physically active the risk of many NCDs and health ailments is reduced significantly. It is so much so that for many medical journals and independent studies the top recommendation for prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and many more is to simply ensure a minimum amount of physical activity is met for each day. These recommendations are correct and sound medical advice to many people; however, this advice is tailored to those who are not forced to commit to strenuous activity daily. When a person is made to commit to repetitive tasks to survival it takes a different toll on the body. Simply put, too much strenuous activity without proper care and nutrition can increase the risk for NCDs such as asthma, hypertension, arthritis, etc.  An independent study published through the US National Library of Medicine examined the effects of excessive and repetitive physical activity as a risk factor for hypertension and related diseases. (Zhu, Z, Et. al.) The study was conducted 8206 subjects, split by 4110 males and 4096 females, aged 15-45. The subjects were monitored on activity level per week with intensity metrics built into the study. The results found a steady rise of pre-hypertension and hypertension with increasingly vigorous or strenuous activity. The average rate of pre-hypertension and hypertension for the entire study was 45.7% and 5% respectively, however for those who hit the highest level of strenuous activity this rose to 47.8% and 8.2% respectively. This statistic represents a clear correlation between increasing strenuous activity and hypertension rates per person.