Every September 29th is the World Heart Day. This year’s campaign was themed as a call to action urging the world to “use our Hearts to fight heart diseases.”
For a long time, cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been the leading cause of death worldwide and is now a factor in Covid-19 mortality rates.
The day served to remind the general public to better understand what it takes to have healthy hearts and bodies and to act on the knowledge to influence behaviour change for better quality of life and reduction of mortality from Non-communicable Diseases most of which can be mitigated.
Rwanda started the campaign earlier, on Saturday, with a call to the public to be more ardent about healthy lifestyles to not only fight heart disease but also Non-Communicable Diseases. Non-communicable diseases were found to be solely responsible for about 40 per cent of deaths in the country, with 14.1 per cent of the NCDs being associated with heart ailments.
The Covid-19 pandemic has, among other things, shone light on how NCDs can be handled worldwide. Among the tools that have served to combat the pandemic globally that could be used to address the growing NCDs burden is surveillance, robust public health, and clear communication.
Fortunately for Rwanda its history to combat NCDs has been evident through its national responses to safeguard and improve nutrition, encourage regular exercise and checkups through the bi-monthly car free day.
As the government through the Ministry of Health and other relevant institutions continue to provide the necessary policy framework for a healthier nation, there is a need to increase awareness across all segments of the population on actions citizens can continuously take to reduce their vulnerability to NCDs.
The response to the pandemic by the public in recent months is proof that with adequate information, Rwandans can take appropriate measures and steps to be the first line of defence against ailments.
With this year's theme calling on the world to take care of their hearts and bodies, awareness and information tailored to local context on ways to reduce vulnerability could reduce the impact and vulnerability of NCDs.
Continuously using available mediums to create outreach will see the public play a greater role to bring down the percentage of lifestyle diseases across the country.