Midlands Bureau Chief
The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) in partnership with the Danish Red Cross, are on a non-communicable diseases (NCDs) awareness drive targeting schools and tertiary institutions in a bid to empower young people with knowledge on how to manage their conditions and encourage them to adopt healthy lifestyles.
The two organisations are currently implementing a three-year project on Youth Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights with a component on Non-Communicable Diseases. This week they belatedly commemorated the World Health Day which ran under the theme -“a fairer and healthier world”.
The commemorations were done at various tertiary institutions where Red Cross has youth clubs among them Bindura University of Science Education and Midlands State University.
“Our project is aimed at disseminating information on empowering young people both with knowledge and skills on how to manage non communicable diseases and encourage young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This Commemoration was and is one of the many initiatives they are conducting,” said ZRCS Secretary General Mr Elias Hwenga.
He said the ZRCS collaborated with the Midlands Diabetes Interest Group, Red Cross Clinic, Ministry of Health, Midlands State University and other stakeholders to set up a fly-by type of exhibition where they were raising awareness on NCDs, conducting NCD tests such as breast cancer self-check, blood pressure, diabetes test and Body Mass Index, (BMI).
“High impact NCD interventions can be delivered through a primary health care approach to strengthen early detection and timely treatment. Evidence shows such interventions are sustainable economic investments because, if provided early to patients, they can reduce the need for more expensive treatment,” added Mr Hwenga.
At both MSU and BUSE, the activities had a huge turn out with a lot of students accessing testing services, showing a keen interest in finding out more about NCDs and how they can effectively adopt a healthy lifestyle.
MSU Red Cross Club chairperson Mr Panashe Mangozhe appreciated the exhibition indicating that it brought crucial services to students.
“NCDs are known as old people’s diseases, but this is not true. There is an increasing number of young people being diagnosed with NCDs such as diabetes. Due to the lack of knowledge, most are not able to manage their conditions and thus succumb when it could have been avoided,” said Mr Mangozhe who is also a medical student.
He said such exhibitions are relevant for young people as they promote a preventive type of approach to medicine so that people get preventive information before they get sick.
“Global focus is now on communicable diseases such as Covid-19 giving little attention to NCDs. This intervention is a very unique and powerful as students are equipped with knowledge on management and prevention of non-communicable diseases right at their doorstep,” he said.
ZRCS Youth Development Coordinator Ms June
Munyongani said primary and secondary school students in Karoi, Chinhoyi and Kariba recently received similar lectures on NCDs.
Lectures are also pencilled for schools in Gweru, Harare, Bindura and Kwekwe.
An arts festival is also earmarked for in-school students in Midlands, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central Provinces where the ZRCS is currently running a youth project.
According to WHO, Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71percent of all deaths globally. Each year, more than 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; 85percent of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
A total of 77percent of all NCD deaths 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), respiratory diseases (4,1 million), and diabetes (1.5 million). These four groups of diseases account for over 80pervent of all premature NCD deaths.
Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets 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.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross Youth with support of Danish Red Cross is working with young people in schools and tertiary institutions focusing on better management of NCDs as a critical component.
Management of NCDs includes detecting, screening, and treating these diseases, and providing access to palliative care for people in need.