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Chronic Disease Brief For Africa (August 2019) By Dara Oloyede

  • Uganda: NCDs Drugs Included in the Updated Essential Medicines List 

  • Tanzania: Heart Diseases On the Rise 

  • Ethiopia: Improving Hypertension Prevention

  • Kenya: National Cervical Cancer Vaccination Rollout

  • Uganda Cancer Institute Makes Strides in Research, Treatment, and Training 


Uganda: NCDs Drugs Included in the Updated Essential Medicines List 

The Ministry of Health wants to update the list of essential medicine and health supplies to include more medication to treat Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) (The Independent, 2019). According to the Ministry, the list must include medications that meet the needs of most of the population. The new guideline, as well as the list of essential medicines, will be launched next year. Dr. Fred Sebisubi, the Assistant Commissioner for Pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, said that they are also making sure that medications for the elderly are available not only in the hospitals but also at other health facilities. He said that the guidelines approved in 2016, did not include specific considerations for aging populations (The Independent, 2019). 

For more information check out this article at The Independent: Uganda: NCD Drugs Prioritized As Ministry Reviews Essential Medicines Lists


Tanzania: Heart Diseases On the Rise 

Dr. Pedro Pallangyo, a cardiologist and Head of Research and Training at Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), said that the number of heart diseases was increasing and caused by unhealthy living (Shekighenda, 2019). He also said that although the quality of life has improved, it has also contributed to the rise of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart-related problems. Dr. Pallangyo listed the main risk factors of heart problems to be: smoking and drinking, being overweight, poor eating habits and exercise habits. He recommends that a culture of regularly exercising to improve one's health should be promoted. Also, he believes that people should be more mindful of how much salt, sugar, and fat is in their food. The International Heart Federation and Tanzania Cardiac Society reported that 80% of cardiovascular-related deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease can be prevented by controlling the main risk factors that were mentioned above (Shekighenda, 2019).

For more information check out this article at Tanzania Daily News:Heart Disease, NCDs on the Rise, JKCI


Ethiopia: Improving Hypertension Prevention

In Ethiopia, hypertension stands as one of the main risk factors for deaths related to cardiovascular diseases (Shiferaw, 2019). Hypertension affects 15.9% of the population, with only 1.5% of people having their condition under control and 2.8% receiving adequate treatment. The Federal Ministry of Health collaborated with the World Health Organization and Resolve to Save Lives organization, to improve hypertension prevention and control at the primary health care level. This project is to be launched in 74 health facilities and 200 health posts throughout the country. This project began July 31st, led by Dr. Amir Aman who is the minister of the Ministry of health. In his opening speech, he talked about the need to focus on treatment and care for patients with non-communicable diseases just like patients with HIV and TB. Dr. Aman also talked about how the Ministry is working on creating an evidence-based policy on trans-fat and reducing sodium intake, improving treatment of hypertension and other NCDs, and well and improving the monitoring and evaluation of these conditions (Shiferaw, 2019). 

For more information check out this article at World Health Organization – Africa: Ethiopia sets to improve hypertension prevention and control at primary health care level


Kenya: National Cervical Cancer Vaccination Rollout

The Ministry of Health is carrying out its plan to give vaccinations to 10-year old girls to prevent cervical cancer (Njanja, 2019). This will include two-doses of the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), with the second dose administered after six months. About 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities will be participating. The Ministry of Health’s goal is to reduce cases of cervical cancer. According to the Internal Agency for Research on Cancer, Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer in the country, after breast cancer. The Ministry of Health found that seven women in Kenya die every day from cervical cancer, which adds up to about 3,000 deaths per year (Njanja, 2019).  

For more information check out this article at the Daily Nation: State to roll out cervical cancer vaccination 


Uganda Cancer Institute Makes Strides in Research, Treatment, and Training 

Experts say that Uganda’s Cancer Institute (UCI) is an excellent model of cancer treatment and management (Abdallah, 2019). UCI was honored as East Africa’s Center of Excellence in Oncology. UCI offers services for treatment, research, and prevention. This facility is sought out by cancer patients because of the availability of diagnostic equipment and free access to cancer treatment. UCI alone has three radiotherapy machines and available morphine drugs. According to the UCI, cancer affects all age groups, and children make up 40% of new cases. UCI receives 1,700 cases each year. UCI is planning on offering training at the post-graduate level for students through the Makerere University College of Health Sciences in hopes to continue to develop the medical workforce trained to provide cancer treatment and care (Abdallah, 2019).

For more information check out this article at The East African: In Uganda, doctors believe they are winning war on cancer despite rising numbers


Dara Oloyede is the African News Correspondent for Engage Africa Foundation. She holds a Masters of Public Health at Boston University in Maternal & Child Health and Program Management. During her free time, she likes to read books, hang out with friends, go to the movies, concerts, as well as events that celebrate different cultures.

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