Rwanda is looking for $638 million to finance a new 5-year campaign aimed at reducing premature mortality stemming from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by 25 per cent in 2025.
Premature death refers to a death that occurs before the average age of death in a certain population. Rwanda’s average age of death is approximately 63 years, according to WHO (2015).
Information from the Ministry of Health (MoH) shows that NCDs and injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in Rwanda (almost 59 per cent).
According to the WHO report in 2016, it was estimated that NCDs account for 44 per cent of all deaths in Rwanda.
The most common NCDs in the country include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and diabetes.
On an alarming note, MoH says the number of cardiovascular patients treated in the country’s health facilities has more than tripled between 2018 and 2020 (from 25,353 in 2018 to 88,486 cases in 2020).
Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) associated with NCDs in Rwanda rose from 16 percent in 1990 to 35 per cent in 2016, indicating significant productivity loss in the country.
DALYs is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.
Information from the MoH shows that despite the high burden of NCDs in Rwanda, the money spent on these conditions has remained low averaging 0.8 to 2 per cent of the total health expenditure.
According to Dr Daniel Ngamije the Minister for Health, there is commitment to change this trend for Rwanda to effectively address the rising NCD burden
Rwanda’s new 5-year strategy to deal with NCDs will focus on preventing them through health promotion and reduction of risk factors.
It also focuses on strengthening disease surveillance and research, monitoring and evaluation for evidence-based interventions, improving health system response for early NCD detection and quality care at all levels.
Dr Ngamije presented the plan to various dignitaries at the virtual World Health Summit on Monday October 26, where he said that it is clear that there is a need to work on NCDs. For example, among others he said there is a need to increase mechanisms for early detection of these diseases.
“The detection coverage rate is low like for chronic respiratory diseases. For example, for asthma it is at 7.5 per cent, for diabetes we are at 4 percent which is really low. We need to increase the screening and early detection of NCDs so that we can act on time,” he said.
The strategic plan will directly benefit 4.8 million people.
The plan also points at how Rwanda is fulfilling its commitment to achieving global Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
“Some countries are currently on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 to significantly reduce premature mortality for both men and women from non-communicable diseases by 2030. I am convinced that the current Rwanda strategic plan for the next five years would allow us to make a big step forward,” Dr Ngamije.
According to the WHO, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 per cent of all deaths globally.
And each year, 15 million people between the 30 and 69 years die from an NCD.
Over 85 per cent these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths (17.9 million people annually), followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9 million), and diabetes (1.6 million).