Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) constitute 30 percent of illnesses and contribute about 40 percent of deaths in Malawi, Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Population, Queen Dube, has disclosed.
Dube spoke during a two day first ever national stakeholders conference on NCDs and mental health, which took place in Lilongwe from Thursday and attracted various public and private health experts and activists.
The conference, hosted by the NCD Unit in the Ministry of Health and Population, received financial support from Partners In Health (PIH) Malawi, which is locally known as Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU).
The purpose of the meeting was to appreciate the efforts different stakeholders are putting forward in supporting NCD work, identify scientific innovative interventions that can be scaled up nationally and discuss how more resources can be mobilized in the fight against NCDs.
Dube, who sounded worried like many other health authorities, called for increased awareness and early diagnosis of NCDs in order to reduce the burden of the diseases on people and the country.
“People need to be fully aware of NCDs if we are to prevent the diseases. For if people know, they will be able to have frequent health checks. And this means our hospitals must be well prepared to be able to make diagnosis, provide treatment and care.
“The hospitals must have enough personnel and all the necessary supplies available. We also need to promote exercises and good diet among people,” said Dube.
She added that the Ministry of Health and Population has in place an NCDs strategic plan, which runs from 2020 to 2025 and focuses mainly on raising awareness.
According to Dube and various other speakers at the conference, the main NCDs that kill people in Malawi include; diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers and mental health.
NCDs Specialist at PIH Malawi, Todd Ruderman, concurred with Dube, adding that the burden of NCDs in Malawi need additional local and external funding in order to be reduced.
“There is also the need for additional training for health staff and additional supply chain for equipment and apparatus for improved service in health amenities. We also need to decentralize NCD services to rural communities. Improved diagnosis, treatment and care in rural areas, is crucial,” said Ruderman.
In his remarks, health rights activist and Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network, George Jobe, deplored the devastating effects NCDs have exerted on people and the economy of the country.
“A lot of money is spent on treating NCDs for those who can manage to go for treatment. On the other hand, the poor just suffer with NCDs, resulting in poor performance of various sectors of the economy,” Jobe said.
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