Training health workers and research will be critical if Uganda is to effectively fight Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Prof Anthony Mbonye, the Director Health Services (Community and Clinical) at the Ministry of Health has said. He was speaking while closing a conference on Integrated Management of NCDs in Uganda at Protea Hotel, Kampala organized by Yale Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI) and Uganda Initiative for Integrated Management of Non Communicable Diseases (UINCD).
“I am aware that the NCD program together with partners and other stakeholders are drafting policies, strategies and guidelines geared to prevent and control NCDs. The top management of the ministry of health will support these efforts,” he said.
He further noted that the country is lucky because the stakeholders know why NCDs are increasing.
“It’s because of changes in lifestyles of our population. The population is increasingly eating unhealthy diets, living an inactive life, that’s inadequate physical activity, using tobacco and abuse of alcohol. These are modifiable risk factors that we can do something about to arrest the current situation.”
Prof Mbonye added that NCDs in Uganda like other developing countries are not detected early which makes it difficult to manage the resultant complications like blindness, stroke, impotence and amputations.
“The Ministry of Health has already established an NCD program to coordinate all efforts towards NCD prevention and control. Funding for the health sector is continuously improving and NCDs will continue to benefit from this increase through an integrated approach,” he said.
Prof Elly Katabira of Makerere School of Health Sciences said that the focus of combating NCDs is being put on training and research.“We are putting emphasis on training of our undergraduates such that when they qualify they can be able to address these diseases in a holistic manner,” he noted.
Dr Jeremy Schwartz an associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine, however observed that when he first arrived in Uganda as a medical student in 2004 the care given to patients suffering from NCDs was fragmented and hence a need for integrated services. “In the US I face the same challenges like here but as physicians we need to learn about these diseases and to address the challenges interlinked from within.”
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause 63 percent of all cases of deaths in the world equivalent to 36 million people every 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.