Stakeholders strategise ways of fighting chronic diseases

The government is developing a contingency plan that will reliably and sustainably tackle Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the most common killers.
<p>Dr Agnes Binagwaho (R), the minister for health, shares a light moment with Sir George Alleyne, the director emeritus of Pan-American Health Organisation, on the sideline of the con....

Dr Agnes Binagwaho (R), the minister for health, shares a light moment with Sir George Alleyne, the director emeritus of Pan-American Health Organisation, on the sideline of the con....

The government is developing a contingency plan that will reliably and sustainably tackle Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the most common killers.

This was observed during a two-day NCD Synergies Network conference held in Kigali that brought together 150 experts from 18 countries to strategise on how best developing countries can address the global concerns of NCDs.

Rwanda is in the process of coming up with statistics on NCDs. Available figures from World Health Organisations indicate that NCDs are estimated to account for 29 per cent of all deaths in Rwanda.

NCDs are also called chronic diseases. They include cardiovascular disease, cancer, epilepsy, pulmonary disease, and diabetes, among others.

“The situation on NCDs in Rwanda is not yet known but we have finished a study and now our people are analysing the data collected. In this analysis, they are looking at the causes and the factors of NCDs. This will be the first way to know where we stand,” said Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the minister for health, said.

She said Rwanda is currently using WHO-aggregated data for the region although the figures may not be exactly appropriate.

Persisting

In 2011, the UN High-Level Meetings on NCDs mandated all member countries to create a multi-sector national policy for the prevention and control of NCDs.

However, few developing countries have finalised a strategic and comprehensive plan for the problem.

It is in this context that the Ministry of Health is seeking partnerships with other governments facing similar challenges through synergies.

“We expect to liaise with counterparts in other countries to study how we can provide care prevention and treatment to our people in a less expensive manner. We can only achieve that through collective advocacy to find the finances to do so as well as learning from each other,” said Dr Binagwaho.

Most of the non-communicable diseases include infectious diseases,  and, according to the minister, Rwanda is working to contain the situation in a way that infectious diseases are effectively controlled.

“We are soon starting a check-up campaign at a community level where Rwandans will be screened twice a year, The check up will be for eyes, ears, lungs, stomach, clinical exams and blood pressure, among others, as well as interviewing the patients to know if something changed in their status.

Rwanda’s progress


Sir George Alleyne, the director emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization, said Rwanda had done well by bringing together neighbouring countries to learn from each other on how to address the NCDs problem that the world faces.

“There are areas which Rwanda can teach and those that Rwanda can learn, one of the areas that Rwanda has highly developed is that of the basic philosophy; it is not enough to prevent these diseases but also have to treat them when they occur. Countries need to have in place the services that allow them to deal with this problem from the grassroots,” said Alleyne

He also commented on the concerns for NCDs data, saying: “All countries have data but one of the things I have learnt is that you have to work with the data you have. Over the course of the last six years, data collection in Rwanda has tremendously improved in terms of epidemiology and social factors. Obviously it can be better.”

However, he advised that the simpler the data, the easier it is to use and refer to while implementing policies.

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