In line with government efforts to ensure a healthy population as well as global efforts to fight non-communicable diseases, (NCDs), the Ministry of Health has finalised plans to conduct a nationwide study on the diseases that include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and cataracts.
According to the Director of Hospitals in the Ministry of Health, Dr Bonavanture Nizeyimana, the study is in line with the World Health Organisation requirements of assessing the causes of these diseases.
“The study aims at identifying the cause of non communicable diseases and we intend to have the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) on board as a partner in conducting the study,” Nizeyimana said.
The study is in line with the WHO’s stepwise approach to surveillance of the risk factors of NCD.
The WHO approach was developed as part of a global surveillance strategy in response to the growing need for country-level trends in non-communicable diseases.
“By using the same standardised questions and protocols, we can use this approach for monitoring the trends of these factors. The approach encourages the collection of small amounts of useful data information on a regular and continuing basis,” he said.
“It focuses on a minimum number of risk factors that predict the major non-communicable diseases. This information can, in turn, be used to plan for disease prevention through population-level risk factor reduction”.
NCD is a medical condition or disease which is non-infectious. NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression.
Cervical cancer is considered to be the most common cancer among women in Rwanda.
In 2010, there were 986 new cases of cervical cancer reported by Rwanda’s three referral hospitals; while 678 women died from the disease.
The data was collected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation based in the United States.
Figures in the institute’s report indicate that 54.4 percent of the diagnosed cancers in Rwanda arise in female subjects.
Tumours represent 38.5 percent of examined tissues in the anatomy pathology laboratory, of which 20.85 percent are malignant.
A cancer report from the Ministry of Health indicates that by 2004, only 30.1 percent of cancer suspicions in the hospitals were verified. The average age of people with cancer is 44.8 years.
The main cancers of men are stomach, amounting to16.4 percent of all cancer cases in men. In women, cervical cancer leads the table with 27.3 percent followed by breast (10.5 percent) and stomach (8.8 percent).