The Ministry of Health (MoH) is working to introduce new changes in healthcare so that more attention will be paid to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) since they have overtaken infectious diseases as the main cause of death. Information from the MoH shows that over the past 10 years, the NCD mortality has become prominent while infectious diseases are stagnating, yet the country’s health sector was designed to mainly deal with infectious diseases. ALSO READ: Why non-communicable diseases are on the rise in Rwanda According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), NCDs are estimated to have caused 50 percent of deaths in 2019. In 2021, the mortality rate across the four major NCDs (Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Respiratory Disease, Cancer and Diabetes) was 695 per 100,000 in males and 609 in females in 2021 in Rwanda. Speaking to The New Times, Muhammed Semakula, the Head of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Health Financing at the MoH said they are already working on reforms to deal with such changes that are showing up. Among the reforms, the government hopes to equip Community Health Workers (CHWs) with knowledge for managing NCDs. In addition to this, the government also aims to multiply the health workforce by four times by 2028. “There is a reshaping of the package the CHWs can offer. We want to include knowledge and skills for managing NCDs, in addition to giving them equipment and tools that can assist them to detect the NCDs,” he said. ALSO READ: Rwandans urged to take regular screening for non-infectious diseases “We have a target that 95 percent of all diseases will be managed at primary healthcare level. That means we need to have strong CHWs at the baseline so that we can be able to detect the problems early and treat them instead of paying the high cost for delays,” he added. The epidemiological transition in the country has been incorporated into Rwanda’s fourth Health Sector Strategy plan (2018-2024), which reflects the increase in population and life expectancy, as well as the anticipated increase of the health needs of older people, particularly for NCDs. Rwanda has implemented a number of efforts for fighting NCD, in relation to NCD policy and planning. These include NCD guidelines, tobacco taxes, tobacco media campaign, and alcohol advertising restrictions. Globally, according to the WHO, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74 percent of all deaths. ALSO READ: Diets to prevent non-communicable diseases “Each year, 17 million people die from an NCD before age 70; 86 percent of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries,” reads a WHO statement. Of all NCD deaths, 77 percent are in low- and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes). These four groups of diseases account for over 80 percent of all premature NCD deaths. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and air pollution all increase the risk of dying from an NCD. Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs, according to the WHO.