The sudden death of Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga on Friday night should warn us of the dangers of silent killer diseases. The archbishop died suddenly after a full day of active participation in the Way of the Cross at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala.
Hence, his sudden death is unimaginable. Strangely, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, also collapsed from diabetes-related discomfort at the requiem Mass at Rubaga Cathedral, but was quickly saved by doctors at nearby Rubaga hospital in Kampala.
These two high-profile cases should warn us of the deadly risks we all face from four silent killer diseases, especially high blood pressure, which exposes us to heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. The other silent killers are diabetes, cancer, and chronic kidney diseases.
Regrettably, the risk factors of these silent killers are known; namely physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco abuse, and unhealthy diets. Thus, the burden of securing our health is in our hands. We only need take responsibility for our health by adopting healthy lifestyles to avert the burden of and sudden deaths from these non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
All we need is to change our lifestyles, drink alcohol moderately, stop taking tobacco and decrease consumption of foods with high sugar content, and do more physical activities to stop NCDs. Some of the physical activities to help achieve healthy lifestyles are commonplace, including dancing, cycling, jogging, brisk walking and digging, which we can do both for fun and for a living.
To this regard, the Ministry of Health has acted well in taking measures to control the rising problem of NCDs. It launched the annual National Day of Physical Activity, instituted the Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries (NDCI) Commission in 2019. It also elevated its NCD Programme to a department and included some key NCD medicines among Uganda’s Essential Medicines List. In the same year, President Museveni launched the Presidential Initiative on Healthy Lifestyle to promote healthy eating and lifestyle practices.
All these notwithstanding, we have continued to suffer dire consequences of NCDs.
Previously, our country’s 2014 NCDs survey indicated that 33 per cent of our annual deaths are attributed to the silent killer diseases. Worse, most of these deaths claim our citizens in their prime before reaching 70 years of age. As Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng then warned, 6 per cent of Ugandans have heart diseases, 3.2 per cent live with diabetes, with 350 of every 100,000 living with cancer, while another 8,000 new cases of cancer are recorded every year. But the good news is, we can beat NCDs.
Let’s all eat healthily and exercise to live healthy.