Non-communicable  diseases to be added to  primary health care services Dr John Mangwiro

Leonard NcubeVictoria Falls Reporter

GOVERNMENT is making efforts to integrate non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to primary health care services to address challenges associated with emerging health conditions.

NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors.

The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke as well as cancers and chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

Health experts from across the continent are meeting in Victoria Falls for a three-day Second African Regional Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Conference which started yesterday and ends tomorrow.

Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro, who was the guest of honour, said there is a need to encourage all ministries and departments to collaborate.

“These are very common and were the leading causes of death during Covid-19. As Government we are taking NCDs seriously and we want to handle them at primary healthcare level.


“It is my expectation that we leave no one and no place behind because people living with NCDs are at a higher risk for mortality and morbidity in emergencies. So, let us improve the integration of NCDs in response to health emergencies. Together we can win the fight against NCDs,” he said.

He said NCDs have overtaken HIV and other diseases as common causes of illness and hospitalisation.

Dr Mangwiro said it is important to note that NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, with 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 70 years dying every year.

 The Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for NCD patients to access screening, diagnosis, and treatment services.

Dr Mangwiro said with the right policies for NCD prevention and treatment, this increasing trend can be reversed.

He said despite challenges, the government of Zimbabwe has put in place various initiatives to combat NCDs and ensure better survival.

These initiatives include prioritising NCDs in the National Health Strategy (2022-2026), creating an NCD department led by the Director of NCDs in the Ministry, capacitating primary health care centres to integrate NCDs and Mental Health through trainings, procurement of equipment and NCD medicines. Free treatment for the elderly, pregnant women and children under five years, development of a Mental Health Services Package, five-year Mental Health Strategy, mental health investment case and National Cancer Control Plan are some of the strategies.

“As a country, we have stepped up efforts to raise awareness on NCDs through national public awareness campaigns,” added Dr Mangwiro.

WHO Cluster Lead (Universal Health Coverage-NCD) Dr Anderson Chimusoro said the conference is an opportunity for African countries to share experiences and proffer home grown solutions to issues emanating from NCDs.

He said NCDs have become the leading cause of death, accounting for 37 percent of deaths in 2019, up from 24 percent in 2000.

Dr Chimusoro called for the speedy implementation of policies on NCD prevention.

“At the current rate it is predicted that NCDs will become the major cause of mortality and morbidity in the region by the year 2030 if urgent steps are not taken now,” said Dr Chimusoro.

He said most adults are affected but with little access to the much needed care, making NCDs a drain to global and national economies thereby leaving people vulnerable.

Dr Chimusoro said to effectively address the NCD risk factors, a multi-sectoral approach, backed by political will, is crucial.

“WHO continues to support member states in addressing NCD burden through mobilising partners, providing technical resources and sharing examples from around the world,” he said.

President of the World NCD Federation Professor Jarnail Thakur said NCDs are now a common problem with a 25-percent burden in most countries.

“Known infections are going down and NDCs are increasing. So this conference is very important to discuss what should be done and the focus is on implementation of policies and programmes as we say each country should effectively implement policies and strategies and try to develop best practices,” he said.

He said there are three pillars in NCD prevention, namely health promotion where those that are healthy should remain healthy, managing problems and giving access to diagnosis and essential medicines to those suffering from NCDs. -@ncubeleon 

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