The government plans to train at least 1,000 health workers across the country who will be used in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, at the launch of the year-long campaign at Petit Stade in Remera, said this is in line with efforts to ensure a healthy population.
Hundreds turned up for the launch–which coincided with the marking of World Heart Day and World Diabetes Day–that saw a walk and subsequent testing of people for various NCDs.
During the event, participants tested for diabetes, heart, eyes, nose and mouth infection, measuring of weight, breast cancer, asthma and kidney, among others.
Dr Ndagijimana said at least one doctor from all public hospitals and at least two nurses from all health centres in the country will be conducting the different check-ups and their target is females above 35 and males above 40.
“Through this campaign, we want to inform the population about the need for checkups; as this is a very important measure through which such diseases can easily be detected and prevented,” Ndagijimana said.
Caution on lifestyle
NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression.
The four main types of noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (likeheart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
Dr Ndagijimana said some of the NCDs are purely lifestyle because they are caused by health habits such as smoking and consumption of alcohol.
Such diseases, he said, inlcude stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and osteoporosis.
Identifying the root cause of these diseases, Dr Ndagijimana said is the best way to fight them and that the sensitisation part of the awareness campaign will serve this purpose.
Officials hailed the initiative for being timely because there is urgent need for creating public awareness since people do not take preventive measures seriously.
Dr Joseph Mucumbitsi, the president of Rwanda Heart Foundation, said between 60 and 75 heart patients are operated annually.
“Currently, there is no survey that has been done to ascertain the number of people suffering from heart diseases, but the Ministry of Health says it will soon conduct one; but I am sure the number is high, according to sample cases we register,” he said.
He said although the diseases kill, it is evident that some lives are lost simply because people never go for regular tests to know the stand of their health status before it is too late.