The Minister of State for Primary Health Care Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu has said that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are on rise among Ugandans due to inactive and unhealthy lifestyles.
The minister said that the worst part is that most of the people living with NCDs are either not aware, or have decided to ignore the “alarm bells.”
Kaducu made the remarks while addressing journalists about the Status of NCDs in Uganda at the Uganda Media Centre.
“These are people who are overweight and/or obese with a BMI above 25 (20% or more of the population), those with high Blood Pressure (BP), with high blood sugar levels and those with high cholesterol levels,” Dr. Kaducu said.
“Unfortunately, most Ugandans do not know their BMI, BP, Blood sugar, cholesterol levels due to limited awareness and probably access to screening services.”
Kaducu said that Ugandans need to adopt healthy lifestyles and also go for regular check-ups because prevention of NCDs is better and cheaper than trying to treat them.
She said that treatment for NCDs is economically and socially draining to the individuals, their families and the country.
According to the 2014 Uganda National NCD Risk Factor Survey, 26.8% of Ugandans were engaged in harmful alcohol consumption with about 10% living with alcohol-related disorders.
Uganda as country is also currently ranked 5th globally in alcohol consumption by volume.
The survey revealed that 10% of Ugandans either smoke or chew tobacco and related substances and the risk is high among teenagers.
The survey also found that 24.3% of adult Ugandans had raised blood pressure that needed treatment yet 76.1% of these did not know that they had high blood pressure while 1.4% of adult Ugandans were diabetic.
Kaducu said that NCDs have now surpassed infectious diseases as the leading cause of premature deaths (death below 70 years).
“Currently, the NCDs contribute about 30% of all the annual hospital-based mortalities, according to the Ministry Of Health report 2018. This proportion increases to 40% with the inclusion of road traffic accidents and mental health conditions,” Dr. Kaducu said.
Dr. Kaducu said that government has started documenting the burden of NCDs through the NCD risk factor survey 2014 and the results of this have been used as a baseline assessment to develop strategies and interventions.
She urged Ugandans to embrace healthy diets, an active lifestyle and regular check ups to reduce the burden of disease to the country and economy.