Monday June 2 2014

All Ugandans must test for chronic diseases - experts

The Uganda Non Communicable Diseases Alliance

The Uganda Non Communicable Diseases Alliance vice chairman board of directors, Dr William Lumu (R), UNCDA CEO Constance Kekihembo (C) and the organisation board member Dr Margaret Okello address journalists during their annual general meeting to discuss issues regarding non communicable diseases in Uganda. PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU 


A group of researchers, medical personnel and volunteers have asked the government to make testing for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) mandatory for every Ugandan.

Under their umbrella association, the Uganda Non Communicable Disease Alliance (UNCDA), the experts argue that Ugandan taxpayers lose a lot of money in the would-be manageable cases since there is no accessibility to early prevention and treatment efforts.

“Ugandans end up paying far more for advanced disease and, therefore, there is a need for mandatory testing such that people know where they stand as far as the NCDs are concerned,” said Ms Constance Kekihembo, the alliance’s chief executive officer.

NCDs include cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease like asthma and diabetes among others.

While addressing journalists in Kampala recently, Ms Kekihembo also called on the government to equip health centres with professionals and the necessary equipment such that tests can easily be carried out at the hospitals.

Dr William Lumu, the NCDA vice chairperson board of directors, noted that while they try to provide information about the diseases and proper diagnosis, such information is sometimes watered down by herbalists and unqualified personnel.

“There are complications like hypertension which cannot be treated but easily managed but people are deceived into thinking they are healed and they go back to their old lifestyles which brings them problems.”
He called upon all Ugandans to go for testing for the complication and when they are found to have them, to embrace the patient support services available in various associations.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause 63 per cent of all cases of deaths in the world. That is equal to 36 million people per year. Nine million people die prematurely—before age 60—as a result of NCDs annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that without prevention, 52 million people will die because of NCDs by 2030.
According to ministry of Health statistics, 25 per cent of adult population is affected with hypertension, 3-8 per cent with diabetes while 300 people out of every 100,000 are affected by cancer yet 80 per cent of them are unaware of the problem.