EANCDA Awards Best NCD Journalists, Empowers Media

Best journalists pose with their trophies during the inaugural East Africa Media on NCDs Awards, held in Kampala on March 5th, 2021.

Enhancing media’s capacity to create awareness and champion the NCDs agenda in East Africa

The EANCDA has awarded the best journalists in the region in its inaugural East Africa Media on NCDs Awards, aimed at recognizing the role played by journalists/reporters in championing NCDs and driving the NCD agenda through covering and reporting on NCDs trends in East Africa. The awards also aim at strengthening the East Africa Journalists Network and empowering journalists to continue championing NCDs issues. At the first ever awards ceremony held on 5th March, 2021 at Hotel Africana, in Kampala, Uganda, Ms Aidah Munzatsi of Krik TV of Kenya emerged the best TV journalist, while Ms Agnes Kyotalengeire of The New Vision (Uganda) was declared the best Print journalist. Mr Davis Ddungu of CBS FM (Uganda) scooped the best Radio journalist accolade, while Ms. Lydia Atieno of The New Times (Rwanda) emerged the best online journalist. Six other journalists also won national awards for their respective countries of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zanzibar.

Dr. Charles Oyo Akiya, the Commissioner for the NCDs Department in Uganda’s Ministry of Health, was the chief guest.

Best East Africa NCDs Journalist (Print, TV, Radio and Online)

NAMEMEDIA HOUSECOUNTRYAWARD CATEGORY
Aidah MunzatsiKrik TVKenyaBest East Africa NCDs Journalist (TV)
Agnes KyotolengerireThe New VisionUgandaBest East Africa NCDs Journalist (Print)
Davis DdunguCBS FMUgandaBest East Africa NCDs Journalist (Radio)
Lydia AtienoThe New TimesRwandaBest East Africa NCDs Journalist (online)
Egide NdayiragijeNderagakura RadioBurundiBest Journalist at National Level
Veronica Mrema RomwaldJamvri La HabariTanzaniaBest Journalist at National Level
Abdalla PanduZinjibar TV OnlineZanzibarBest Journalist at National Level
Pauline UngajiNews IndepthKenyaBest Journalist at National Level
Lynn KomugishaUrban TelevisionUgandaBest Journalist at National Level
Rosine UmurungiIsango Star TelevisionRwandaBest Journalist at National Level

Engaging Media in NCDs Advocacy

Since its inception, NCD Alliance East Africa has been striving for an East African Region that is free from Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The organization has undertaken combined efforts to combat the NCD epidemic by putting NCDs at the centre of all East African health and development policies through targeted advocacy, programmatic work and outreach.

NCD Alliance East Africa has also emphasized awareness creation and advocacy as effective tools to pass on messages and to reach out to intended publics.  The need to enhance public outreach on NCDs prevention, management and control has been the organization’s number one priority hence incorporating media as a tool for advocacy and awareness creation.

A reflection on the activities of previous years indicates that most Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in East Africa and Africa as a region, have majorly depended on medical practitioners and advocates for NCD advocacy and awareness creation. One of the challenges with this approach was that medical professionals who are the main advocates, were not well-equipped to communicate the issues and the science behind NCDs in a style that is simple, appealing and understood by the masses or ordinary citizens.

Thus, the conversations on NCDs in general remained largely technical with complex jargon and limited space for raising voices of People Living with NCDs.

In addition, the current COVID 19 situation with its immense impact has created a wider gap on how public receive and send information; stressing media as a stronger tool of communication and advocacy and as a major source of information among NCD CSOs at national, regional and global levels.

Why media in NCDS advocacy

Media thrives on attention-grabbing and personal stories. It mastered the art of developing emotionally compelling stories with a humanistic perspective. Media has the power to inform a large sections of the population in a variety of accessible ways (Oronje et al, 2011). It also has the power to change perceptions and contribute to social and behavior change by setting the agenda and focusing public interest on a particular issue (Happer and Philo 2013). There is therefore a great potential for media impact and an opportunity to raise public consciousness because NCDs are becoming an emotive public issue due to the fearsome nature and increasing rampancy of the diseases in East Africa.

As Oronje (et al 2011) notes, media has powerful potential to impact on awareness and advocacy if engaged in a planned way.  However, the media lacks the capacity to digest medical information and the motivation to run health-related stories.  Most journalists are always struggling to find interesting content to publish on NCDs and health generally. To bridge this gap, a systematic and sustained mutual capacity development effort was organized to train journalists on how to tell NCD stories as well as developing interesting media content by converting NCD discourses into compelling personal experiences of PLWNCDs. The training sessions also focused on building mutual relationships between journalists, advocates, experts and People Living with NCDs. NCD advocates were also trained to articulate NCD issues in a simple and attractive way for public communication.

Major achievements

Capacity Development workshops: NCD Alliance East Africa has built the capacity of 150 journalists within the East African Region to tell compelling stories on NCDs. The trainings were geared towards enhancing media knowledge on NCDs and other related health issues; understanding the role of Governments in prevention and management of NCDs as well as strengthening media relations with key stakeholders. The trainings also introduced media to NCDs research and information and other related issues such as; Universal Health Coverage, Infectious Diseases (HIV and COVID- 19), nutrition, and climate change. They also highlighted the bigger information gaps that limit journalists to write and report on accountability process, policies formulation and resource base and political perspectives on NCDs prevention and control.

Increase in media output – A noticeable increase in information circulation on NCDs among the publics was realized. This was achieved through vibrant conversations and engagements that were held on TV and Radio stations and other respective media platforms.

This is summarized below:

Indicator between July 2020-November 2021TargetAchievement%achieved against target
Number of news articles30Over 100
Number of guest appearances1035270%
Op-ed newspaper commentary305167%
Number of NCD themed TV and radio content0205250%
Number of Special features on PLWNCDs0515140%

Building an East Africa Journalists Network on NCDs: A concrete East African Journalist Network on NCDs was developed with a data base of 35 journalists so far, from the six Member Alliances. The purpose of the network is to: improve media content on NCDs and other related health issues with a focus on having in-depth and well-balanced analyses; ensuring that enough space and airtime is allocated to NCDs content, reflect on the social responsibility role of media in holding Governments accountable to citizens; and last but not least, prioritizing stories and lived experiences of People Living with NCDs

Documentation lived experiences of PLWCDS: Media amplified the voices of PLWNCDs with the aim of tasking policy makers to priorities NCD prevention and control. Special features on circumstances under which PLWNCDs live, the health care conditions, access to medication and the Governments’ responses towards NCDs prevention and Control have been documented and published.

Development of sustainable media programmes on NCDs: Several programs such as the physical fitness show in Rwanda has been initiated and incorporated in the regular operations of four media houses (radio and TV). In the same spirit, more content has been developed and incorporated into the different TV and radio programs. Programmes including; Health Nuggets in Kenya, Mwasuze Mutya (NTV) and Ebyo’bulamu (Radio Simba) in Uganda have led to strong conversations on NCDs.

Breaking the Language-communication barrier: In the East African region, 99% of the communication materials produced on NCDs are communicated or written in official languages (English and French). This has been one of the key barriers to information access and reach because the largest portion of the population in the region is more comfortable with local dialects. In addition, there has not been any efforts to translate and repackage the scientific NCDs information into simple formats that are easily understandable by the public.    However, media has been handy in toning down the complex scientific language, repackaging the information in a manner that is attractive to the audience without distorting its meaning. With its ability to communicate using some of the local languages, the media has ensured that messages reach the intended targets. The main local languages that have been used include; Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Luganda, and Kirundi.

What are some of the challenges met?

In the pursuit of enhancing media advocacy for NCDs, strict political and operative environment of media houses that are driven by business and profit was the biggest challenge. Another critical challenge was the multi-linguistic nature of the region with very limited usage of the major official languages. Most communities prefer to communicate in local languages, which means that in a country like Uganda with over 50 languages, reaching the population is still a serious challenge. The NCDs network has not fully embraced the communications world, hence access to information and other relevant documents is also a big challenge.

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Breast Cancer: Pink October Roots For Early Screening

Rwanda NCDs stakeholders at the launch of PLWNCDs

Experts stress ‘Love Yourself (IKUNDE),’ ‘Know Yourself (IMENYE),’ ‘Get Checked (ISUZUMISHE)’ as effective breast cancer control measures

Breast Cancer is a Non-Communicable Disease (NCD). According to Rwanda Cancer Registry, Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women.

Globally, breast cancer accounts for one in four cancer cases. In 2020, there were about 684,996 deaths from breast cancer.

When breast cancer is detected early, the survival rate is very high because treatment is available. Unfortunately, 50% – 80% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage in many low-and middle-income countries. This increases the cost of treatment and makes it usually incurable.

To amplify the message of saving lives from breast cancer, October is celebrated as a National Breast Cancer month where people from all over the world recognise the seriousness of this condition and show their support for patients affected by breast cancer.

In solidarity with this cause, Rwanda NCD Alliance joined Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA) and launched the Breast Cancer Awareness Month on 7th October, 2021 at the Pink and Wellness House. The event was graced by a group of People Living with NCDs, Breast Cancer Survivors, and other partners.

In her address, Phillipa Kibugu Decuir, the founder of Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa, noted with concern that many women are unaware of breast cancer until it becomes fatal. “Many women do not have any clue about breast cancer till it becomes deadly. They must be rescued, educated, and empowered to take charge of their health. They must become aware of the importance of early detection as it saves lives. Knowledge is power,” she said.

She reminded participants of the three critical elements in breast cancer prevention that everyone should be familiar with and prioritise in order to live a healthy lifestyle: “Love Yourself (IKUNDE), Know Yourself (IMENYE), Get Checked (ISUZUMISHE).”

She also appealed to Rwandans to embrace the Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa’s innovative approach to raising breast cancer awareness countrywide. “We are challenging all stakeholders and institutions to place our giant 180x90cm Pink Ribbon Symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness in their respective workplaces, where it will be visible to employees and customers. This challenge aims to have 50% (or more) of Rwandans aware of breast cancer and the importance of early detection by October 2022. The Pink Ribbon is the Breast Cancer symbol, and it reminds us that early detection saves lives,” she remarked.

In the same spirit, Nyarurenzi Health Centre in the City of Kigali, on 13th October 2021, launched the Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Cervical Cancer Screening Campaign. The event under the theme, Get screened early for cervical and breast cancer; they are treatable and curable, involved the Ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre and partners including Rwanda NCD Alliance, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Partners In Health (PIH/IMB), International Cancer Institute (ICI), Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa (BCIEA), healthcare professionals, community health workers, and local leaders from the district level. During the event, people with lived experiences of breast cancer took part in awareness activities and mobilised a number of people to participate in the campaign, especially for voluntary breast cancer and cervical cancer screening for early detection.

Courtesy of the consultative engagements by Our Views, Our Voices Initiative that have been undertaken, people living with breast cancer shared their lived experiences. Majority of them emphasised that breast cancer is typically detected at a late stage, necessitating breast surgery. As a result, they advocated for the decentralisation of breast cancer screening services at the health centre level in order to improve early detection.  They highlighted that some healthcare professionals are no longer performing palpation to detect breast tumours. They advocated for a healthcare system with well-trained healthcare personnel who provide equitable services.

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Ugandan MPs endorse motion for free access to NCDs treatment

Making care available at public health facilities to save citizens from dependence on expensive drugs from private pharmacies or using ineffective herbal concoctions

Debate on the floor of the Parliament of Uganda on October 21, 2021, shifted from politics to health issues when a member moved a motion for a resolution of Parliament urging the Government to provide free drugs to diabetic and hypertensive patients.

Hon. Patience Nkunda, the Woman MP for Kanungu District, said the burden of treating NCDs was becoming unbearable for citizens.

 She said 40% of Uganda’s public health centers do not stock drugs to treat chronic diseases, yet they are too expensive for an average Ugandan to afford.

While seconding the motion, Tororo Municipality MP, Hon. Apolo Yeri Ofwono urged the Government to procure and avail these drugs to the health centers through the National Medical Stores (NMS) instead of forcing citizens to buy them from the private clinics or resorting to herbal concoctions.

While supporting the motion, Butambala Woman MP Hon. Aisha Kabanda narrated what she goes through treating her relatives suffering from cancer and diabetes. She called for extensive research on NCDs to find local solutions.

The MPs requested for the building of capacities at low-level health facilities to tackle NCDs by equipping them with screening machines and training health workers to offer efficient NCD services.

There was also a suggestion to introduce a National Physical Activity policy to address the NCD risk factor of physical inactivity. They said that roads especially in the city need to be modified to cater to cyclists and pedestrians to aid policy enforcement.

NCD is a national burden

NCDs are non-infectious health conditions that result in long-term health consequences and often create a need for long-term treatment and care.

NCDs are one of the leading causes of morbidity, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and mortality worldwide. Annually, NCDs kill 41 million people globally. DALYs due to NCDs are reported to have increased by more than 80% between 2000 and 2019. In 2016, over 97, 600 deaths were attributed to NCDs translating into 1 in 3 deaths annually in Uganda [4].

The initial formal priority to NCDs was in 2006 following the establishment of the NCD prevention and control program by the Ministry of Health (MOH). Since then, Uganda has continued to develop NCD policies majorly focusing on preventive measures tackling modifiable risk factors e.g. unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use.

In 2010, the National Health Policy prioritized NCDs in the Health Sector Development Plan though there were inadequate resources that constrained the NCD Desk’s ability to coordinate NCDs services effectively.

In 2011, the Parliamentary Forum on NCDs was formed for legislators to take advantage of their legislative, budgeting, and oversight roles for effective national health regulation. Furthermore, the forum’s strategic objectives incorporated the resolutions of the United Nations 19-20 September 2011 Summit in New York; advocating policy formulation, creating awareness of NCDs within parliament, and lobbying for resources to support all functionalities of NCD bodies and agencies in Uganda.

The forum has had several accomplishments such as; enacting a Tobacco Control Act, Alcohol Consumption Bill being drafted, advocating for physical activity facilities at workplaces, sensitizing masses on healthy feeding; shifting from sugar, fats, and salty diets to more fruits and vegetables, advocating early screening for cervical and prostate cancers.

The Tobacco Control Act, enacted in 2015, was to address the risk factor of tobacco use yet the tobacco manufacturing industry has continued to be a threat to the Act.

In 2019, the efforts of MOH working with partners, Uganda NCD Alliance (UNCDA) inclusive, elevated the NCDs Desk to a Department of NCDs and Mental Health with two divisions: lifestyle and mental health and substance abuse. This is expected to increase funding, power, and decision-making capacity to develop and implement NCD programs and policies.

Other policies focusing on preventive measures i.e. physical activity, nutrition labeling, restriction on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, fiscal measures on sugar-sweetened beverages, and reformulation of foods are underway, thus deserting NCD treatment and palliative care.

Civil Society Organisations have supported and collaborated with the Government in drafting the above policies. UNCDA, in its advocacy work, has supported the introduction of a National Cancer Register and the establishment of an NCD Group in Parliament.

Other Parliamentary proposals

On NCDs awareness, MPs proposed the annual Parliament Health Week to be used as an avenue to educate the public about NCDs. They continued to request for free a radio talk show for health workers to sensitize the public about NCDs.

They called for the strengthening of the existing Multi-Sectoral Health Action Plan for NCDs and several related collaborations with Non-Governmental Organizations and development partners to support the Government in creating public awareness on NCDs.

The legislators also suggested that the existing and amended health policies should be followed up by the leaders to ensure proper enforcement. VHTs were recommended to be utilized to detect these NCDs at the earliest stages and NCDs to be included in the school syllabus.

They insisted that if such proposals are considered, the program of NCDs prevention and control will be uplifted hence reducing the NCDs incidence and mortality in Uganda.

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Prof. Kaushik Ramaiya Voted EANCDA President Elect

Prof. Kaushik Ramaiya

Professor Kaushik Ramaiya is the Chief Executive Officer and Consultant Physician / endocrinologist at Shree Hindu Mandal Hospital, Dar-es-Salaam where he has been working since 1982. He is an Honorary

Professor of Medicine and Global Health at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (since November 2018) and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).

Professor Ramaiya is a Member of the Board of World Diabetes Foundation and Hon. General Secretary

of Tanzania Diabetes Association (TDA), Tanzania NCD Alliance (TANCDA) and Hon. General Secretary to

Association of Private Health Facilities of Tanzania (APHFTA).

 

He is currently working with children with Type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular complications of antiretroviral drugs in HIV/AIDS and Diabetes/TB interaction. Together with a team from NIMRI (Muhimbili) and LSTM, Professor Ramaiya is also implementing a

project on CD NCD Integration models (MOCCA Study) and metformin intervention in HIV patients with IGT (META Trial).

 

He has also partnered with TDA, MoHCDGEC and PORALG to implement the Diabetes/NCD program in Zonal, Regional and District Hospitals all in Tanzania since year 2003. The program has obtained additional funding to expand and encompass NCD prevention and promotion, curative services in primary care, training, policy & legislations, monitoring and evaluation and operational research.

 

From 2000-2006, Professor Ramaiya served as Chair of sub-Saharan Africa Region of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and as Vice President (Global) of IDF from 2007 to

  1. During his tenure as Chair of the sub-Saharan Africa Region, several tools including; the Diabetes Declaration for sub-Saharan Africa Region, Clinical Practice Guidelines for type 2 Diabetes and Diabetes Education Manual for Diabetes Educators in the region were developed in three major languages: English, French and Portuguese.

 

Professor Ramaiya has tremendously contributed to a better understanding of diabetes in the African

region through his research on the status of diabetes care in Africa and the economic costs of diabetes

and its consequences. He has held many oral presentations and published more than seventy (70) peer

reviewed articles.

Prof. Mucumbitsi is New EANCDA President

Prof. JOSEPH Mucumbitsi

He is Chief Consultant Pediatrician and Cardiologist at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali (KFH, K) and Associate Professor (Hon) of Pediatrics, University of Rwanda. Currently, he is the Chairperson, Board of Directors of the Rwanda NCD Alliance and the former Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of EANCDA. He is the Founder and President of the Rwanda Heart Foundation (RHF), a member of the World Heart Federation, the African Heart Network (AHN) and the Panafrican Society of Cardiology (PASCAR). He has been a Member of the Executive Board of AHN from 2012 to 2017 and he was recently elected as member of the Governing Council of PASCAR. 

As the Coordinator of the National Cardiac Surgery program, Prof. Mucumbitsi has collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MOH), KFH,K and international surgical visiting teams, to build a comprehensive cardiac care service in the country. He has also worked closely with the MOH and the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) on the National NCD policy, NCD strategic and action plans, as well as the national NCD protocols and treatment guidelines. 

Prof. Mucumbitsi has been involved in different national and international research projects on cardiovascular diseases, congenital heart disease, and RHD prevention, screening, and surgical outcomes. He is the author or co-author of peer reviewed articles and book chapters.

EANCDA congratulates the new President and looks forward to his policy, strategic leadership and guidance over the next three years.

EANCDA Commends Inaugural Team, Welcomes New Board

Members of the inaugural team pose with new EANCDA Board members in Arusha on November 10, 2021

At its Annual General Meeting held on 10th November 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania, the NCD Alliance East Africa applauded the inaugural Board led by Prof. Gerald Yonga for its distinguished service and strategic leadership.

NCD Alliance East Africa (EANCDA) was founded in 2014 with a Board that comprised an Executive and representatives from the six national NCD Alliances of Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar.

The Inaugural Board has served the organisation since its inception. Characteristic of Inaugural Boards, the Prof. Gerald Yonga-led Board is testimony to seven years of nurturing, mentorship, dedication, devotion and great sacrifices.

The inaugural ENCDA Board is credited for championing the agenda of combating NCDs at national, regional and international levels. This noble duty entailed being on the frontline to ensure that the organisation achieves its intended goals of undertaking combined efforts to combat the NCD epidemic by putting NCDs at the centre of all East African health and development policies through targeted advocacy, programmatic work and outreach.

Prof. Yonga was full of praise for his team for the milestones achieved.

“We came from a very simple common Memorandum of Understanding to an outstanding international NGO recognised by regional and international bodies. It has been a huge task, but I commend my hard working, committed, purpose-driven and results- oriented team with whom we have successfully stewarded the organisation thus far,” he said.

Prof. Yonga said it was indeed satisfying and gratifying to serve for seven years (2014-2021) adding that he was ready to continue supporting the organisation. He thanked the organisation for the opportunity accorded to him and other Board members to offer leadership and administrative guidance to EANCDA.

 “Indeed, EANCDA is a recognized entity not only in the region but globally. We are handing over to an incoming Board a very robust, recognized and very futuristic organization that we hope shall be nurtured and brought to the highest level of integrity globally. I promise to remain a reliable partner and provide support to the organization,” said Prof. Yonga.

He commended the Secretariat for having made his work easy during the transition period of the organization and during the harsh COVID-19 pandemic period. Prof. Yonga acknowledged the tremendous support from partners, stakeholders and the respective member Alliances.

He specifically saluted the Danish NCD Alliance (DNCDA) for the long-term partnership and support, and extended gratitude to Ms. Susanne Volqvartz, who carried the passion to ensure that EANCDA is put in place.

On behalf of EANCDA, Dr. Peter Mokayathanked the Executive Board for building a recognized and admired organisation.  In a special way, he lauded Prof. Yonga for dedicating time and efforts to steward the organization amidst challenges.

“The memories of how we started are still fresh. I am really amazed that we can now sit together and discuss NCDs as a region. It is an evolution and progress.”

Dr. Mokaya acknowledged the love and dedication by all members, stakeholders and partners in ensuring that EANCDA meets its goals and mission.

“We are not here because we need money, rather we have a deep passion to ensure the organization meets its purpose,” he added.

He urged the organisation not to forget the pioneers of EANCDA, but rather utilize them for partnerships, research and other connections.

Mr. Ben Ikara, the outgoing Chairperson of the Finance Committee, commended the EANCDA Secretariat for supporting the Board in all its endeavours. He urged the organization to streamline guidelines and structures that protect staff.

New Board Ushered in

At the same meeting, the EANCDA Board of Directors approved some constitutional amendments aimed at ensuring continuity. The changes restructured the position of the Chairperson of Board of Directors to President and also introduced the position of President Elect, with the objective of ensuring a systematic and continuous progress of the organization.

The amendments also introduced the position of President Elect to ensure systematic and continuous progress of the organization.

The Annual General Meeting elected Prof. Joseph Mucumbitsi as President of NCD Alliance East Africa. Prof. Mucumbitsi will steward the organization for a term of three years (2021-2024). He brings vigor to the Board and will work with the team and partners to ensure that the vision of creating an East African population that is free from NCDs is realized.

The same meeting elected Prof. Kaushik Ramaiya as President Elect. In line with the constitution, Professor Ramaiya will serve as President Elect for one term with a duration of three years (2021-2024). He will automatically become the President, succeeding Prof. Joseph Mucumbitsi. During his tenure as President Elect, he is expected to understudy the President, act as his Deputy and perform all functions delegated to him by the President.

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Mucumbitsi thanked EANCDA for re-entrusting him with the leadership of the organization and called for collective support from members.

The President Elect Prof. Kaushik Ramaiya, said: “The priorities have already been set up most importantly there is the right Board in place.  There is need to diversify and look at other activities that can be done as a region.”

He added: “Prof. Yonga has taught us a lot of things and we have already attained an excellent network as EANCDA. We promise to keep the trend.”

The Outgoing Board of Directors 

NO. Name Alliance
Prof. Gerald Yonga Chairperson of Board of Directors
Prof. Joseph Mucumbitsi The Vice Chairperson Board of Directors
Prof. Kaushik Ramaiya The General Secretary
Ben Ikara Chairperson, Finance Committee
Dr. Francois Ndikumwenayo Burundi NCD Alliance
Dr. Susan Nakireka Uganda NCD Alliance
Dr. Peter Mokaya Kenya NCD Alliance
Louis Henry Majaliwa Zanzibar NCD Alliance
Dr. Catherin Karekezi Kenya NCD Alliance
Happy Nchimbi Tanzania ANCD Alliance
Alphonse Mbarushimana Rwanda NCD Alliance
Haji Fundi Zanzibar NCD Alliance
Christopher Kwizera Uganda NCD Alliance
Dr. Alexis Nizigiyimana Burundi NCD Alliance

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The Diabetes Walk: Rwandans Warned on diet, exercise, alcohol

Rwanda NCDs stakeholders during celebrations to mark the Global Diabetes Day

On 14th November, 2021, Rwanda NCD Alliance joined the rest of the world to mark the World Diabetes Day under the theme: “Access to Diabetes Care.

The Global Diabetes Walk is an annual global diabetes awareness-raising campaign that takes place every November. It was established by the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) to involve Civil Society Organizations worldwide in the commemoration of the World Diabetes Day.

The event brought together other CSOs such as Rwanda Diabetes Association (RDA), Lions Club Kigali, and a delegate from the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), Ms. Nathalie Bille.

The Global Diabetes Walk was organised concurrently with the National Cross-country Championship competitions managed by the Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF).

At the end of the walk, the Director of the Rwanda Diabetes Association (RDA), Etienne Uwingabire, joined the stage where awards were presented to cross country championship competition winners and delivered a message of the day. He took off time to warn Rwandans against diabetes.

 “We are encouraging everyone to be physically active due to the fact that walking and participating in physical activities at large are the common and affordable preventive majors against diabetes. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, and quitting/avoiding tobacco smoking are all beneficial in the fight against diabetes and other NCDs. On the other hand, for people living with diabetes, being physically active makes the body more sensitive to insulin, which helps in diabetes management. Physical activity also lowers the risk of heart disease and nerve damage by helping to control blood sugar levels. Walking with us today, allowed individuals, friends and others to take care of themselves while also raising awareness about the importance of diabetes prevention and care,” he said.

The events marked the climax of a successful week-long public awareness campaign on Diabetes planned for diabetes awareness, education and advocacy in Rwanda.

Some of the activities included; consultations with people living with diabetes, assistance to newspapers in featuring diabetes in their November outputs, diabetes awareness and screening in secondary schools, radio and television appearances for NCD Advocates and people living with diabetes.

The good news is that some NCDs services have been decentralised to health centres level. In line with the theme – “access to diabetes care” – the Rwanda NCD Alliance mobilised the general population to reach out to the nearest health facility to be checked for diabetes and other NCDs.

Rwanda NCD Alliance also participated in award-giving ceremonies. The Alliance provided branded T-shirts with a blue cycle (universal symbol for diabetes) and a Global diabetes walk message similar to those worn by global diabetes participants.

Burden of diabetes

Today, diabetes affects over 422 million people worldwide. If no preventive measures are taken, that figure could rise to 578 million by 2030. Majority of the people living with this condition suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is often preventable. Diabetes affects four out of every five people in low- and middle-income countries.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the body fails to use the insulin produced as effectively as it should. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is a common side effect of uncontrolled diabetes, and it can cause serious damage to many of the body’s systems, particularly the nerves and blood vessels, over time. Diabetes leads to blindness, renal failure, heart attacks, stroke, and amputation of lower limbs.

Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or deferred through diet, exercises, medication, and regular screening and treatment for complications.

  • Diabetes is classified into three major types: Type 1 (the body attacks itself by mistake, preventing the body from producing insulin)
  • Type 2 (the body does not use insulin well and cannot maintain normal blood sugar levels)
  • Gestational Diabetes, which develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes

Despite the fact that insulin was discovered 100 years ago, millions of people living with diabetes around the world still do not have access to the care they require. Insulin is the medicine/therapy used in the treatment of diabetes. People living with diabetes require continuous care and support in order to manage their condition and avoid complications.

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Tanzania Launches Advocacy Agenda For People Living With NCDs

TANCDA stakeholders at the launch of the Advocacy Agenda for PLWNCDAs on November 24, 2021

The initiative arose as a result of consultations involving people with lived experiences of NCDs, which was conducted in July and August 2021. 

Community conversations, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted, reaching about 213 people living with a wide range of NCDs in all the regions across the country, including Arusha, Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Iringa, Kagera, Kilimanjaro, Mafinga, Mara, Mbeya, Morogoro, and Mtwara.

This Tanzania Advocacy Agenda will strengthen the NCD response at national, regional, and global levels. It will be a reference point for Civil Society Organizations and people living with NCDs to urge decision makers to take action, to meet agreed-upon global and national NCD targets, and to put people first.

Dr. Omary Ubuguyu, the Director for Curative Services in the Ministry of Health, was the chief guest at the launch.

He commended people living with NCDs for the great milestones reached and appreciated the efforts of the Tanzania NCD Alliance for building the capacity of people living with NCDs and supporting them leading to the development of the Advocacy Agenda. 

“All the concerns and asks have been accepted and we will work on them, but I urge you to stay united and to raise your voices as one; walk together and reach far.”

Also in attendance were; Dr. James Kiologwe, the Assistant Director -NCDs in the Ministry of Health, Prof. Andrew Swai, the TANCDA Chairman, and Dr. Tatizo Waane, the TANCDA Treasurer. 

At the event, people living with NCDs highlighted their key needs from the various stakeholders including the Government, Ministry of Health, the TANCDA Board, healthcare professionals, Civil Society Organizations, patients associations and people living with NCDs. The four key areas that were highlighted were: human rights and social justice; prevention; treatment, care and support and meaningful involvement.

Dr. Kiologwe, the Assistant Director – NCDs, urged people living with NCDs to legalise the association and to put in place a strong leadership, which will be responsible for overseeing their affairs and also represent them in different forums for the overall wellbeing of all people living with NCDs.

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NCDs Week to Be Held Every Second Week of November

Hon. Kassim Majaliwa, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, in November launched the National Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Program as a strategy to fight NCDs.

This was during the NCD Week, which was organised by the TANCDA between November 06 –13, 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.

The programe is intended to bring together different sectors and stakeholders to discuss and recommend measures and to collaborate in measures to address the burden of NCDs in the country. 

The Prime Minister directed that the NCDs Week be held every second week of November as a platform to create awareness on NCDs, conduct screening services, share evidence from research in NCDs, and to promote appropriate healthy lifestyle through sports. 

Various activities took place during the week, including a walk from Mgambo Ground to Sheir Amri Abeid Grounds on November 6th. More than 400 people participated. 

The multi-sectoral walk drew people from Government Ministries, Development Organisations, Civil Society Organizations, the Joggers Club, risk factors associations, and students. 

At Sheir Amri Abeid, the guest of honour was Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr. John Mongela, who urged the public to take all precautions to prevent and avoid NCDs. 

The Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Godwin Mollel, also joined the opening walk.  

The event attracted many VIPs, among them the Director for Curative Services, Dr. Vivia Wonanji. Other notable officials included the Regional Medical Officer, the Director- NCD unit from MOHCDGEC, Program manager from the NCD unit MOHCDGEC, NCD Coordinator PORALG, religious leaders, NCD coordinators, and District Medical Officers in Arusha.  

On the 6th, the RC and Deputy Minister of Health were the “chief walkers.” A cycling competition at the Amri Abeid Grounds added to the fun. About 30 people showed up with their bicycles.

The First National NCD Scientific Conference took place on 11th and 13th November 2019 at Dodoma University in Dodoma Region.

The National Medical Research Institute (NIMR) took the lead in arranging the conference. Abstracts were received from different research and academic institutions. The main theme was; ‘Multi-sector Engagement in Prevention, Care and Management of Non-communicable Diseases.’ The MOTTO was; ‘Walking together in the prevention and control of NCDs in Tanzania.’

On its part, the Second National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Scientific Conference 2020 was convened by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) through Tanzania NCDs Prevention and Control Program. 

The Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) organised the conference. 

To ensure national representation and participation, MUHAS convened a committee that constituted all research and training institutions as well as tertiary service delivery institutions that provide NCDs services and organizations working in addressing the burden of NCDs in Tanzania. 

The conference took place at the Julius Nyerere International Conventional Centre (JNICC) from 9th – 10th November, 2020. The theme of the conference was; ‘Strengthening health systems to prevent and control NCDs in Tanzania.’ 

The National NCDs Scientific Conference brings together scientists, health care providers, policy makers and other stakeholders to analyse the prevailing situation pertaining to NCDs and their related services. It is part of important activities during the NCDs Week and is guided by the annual NCDs theme.

For the past two years, the conference has recommended strategies to address gaps. The strategies will be adopted by the respective ministries, sectors, and stakeholders. 

To prepare this third National NCDs Conference, the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, through the NCDs Control and Prevention Programme,  again worked with the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. The conference was convened at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) from 11th – 12th November, 2021.

The theme for this year’s conference was; ‘Multisectoral Engagement and Collaboration in Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases.’ 

The presentations and discussions were reflective of the following six subthemes:

  1. Health system strengthening, NCDs financing and universal health care
  2. Governance, the role of Public and Private Sector partnership, Civil Society Organisations, and non- health sectors
  3. Risk factors and social determinants of NCDs
  4. NCD prevention and health promotion
  5. NCD care, treatment, and comorbidities.
  6. Research, innovation, and technology

Guest of Honour

The conference was opened by the Education ministry Permanent Secretary on behalf of Hon. Prof. Joyce Lazaro Ndalichako, the Minister for Education, Science and Technology.

More than 500 stakeholders took part in the conference as participants, presenters, exhibitors, and panelists. They were drawn from the NCDs research community, health care professionals, schools; MOHCDGEC; regional and Local Government health authorities; international organizations, local and international non-governmental organisations; research institutions; Civil Society Organisations, and technical experts.

The two-day conference identified two priority areas:

  1. The fight against NCDs: leveraging on a multi-sectoral approach to mitigate risk factors and combat the rising tide of NCDs in Tanzania; and 
  2. The impact of the rising NCDs burden on health financing in Tanzania: Past experiences, present realities, and future solutions. 

In addition to the key note addresses and panel discussions, the priority areas were also presented through the sub-themes.

Health check and screening 10th to 13th November 2021

NCD screening took place between 10th and 13th in all regions and some district hospitals. In Arusha, there was a free screening camp at the Sheir Amri Abeid Grounds from 10th to 14th.  More than 2,000 people received the services on diabetes, hypertension, eyes, dental, cancer screening, nutritional services, etc. 

NCD SCREENING

Table 2: Hypertension

HypertensionFemale%Male%Total%
Known Controlled807.3%262.8%1065.2%
Known Uncontrolled12111.1%879.3%20810.2%
New30528.0%33135.3%63631.3%
Normal58553.6%49552.7%108053.2%
Total1091100.0%939100.0%2030100.0%

46% of the people had high blood pressure           

15% of the people were previously diagnosed with hypertension           

31% were newly diagnosed           

Table 4: Diabetes

DiabetesFemale%Male%Total%
Known Controlled322.9%283.0%603.0%
Known Uncontrolled312.8%525.6%834.1%
New292.7%323.4%613.0%
Normal99991.6%82388.0%182289.9%
Total1091100.0%935100.0%2026100.0%

10.1% of the people had high blood glucose

7.1% of the people were previously diagnosed with diabetes

3% were newly diagnosed

Table 5: BMI

BMIFemale%Male%Total%
Normal34231.4%53957.5%88143.5%
Obese34131.3%626.6%40319.9%
Overweight35933.0%25327.0%61230.2%
Underweight474.3%849.0%1316.5%
Total1089100.0%938100.0%2027100.0%

Only 31.4% of the women and 57.5% of the men had normal BMI

Females were more obese compared to males

Table 6: Physical activities

Minutes of Physical Activity/WeekFemale%Male%Total%
<15023631.3%20027.8%43629.6%
150-29921027.9%20328.2%41328.1%
300+30740.8%31643.9%62342.3%
Total753100.0%719100.0%1472100.0%

One third of the people did not meet the WHO recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week

During the NCD week MOHCDGEC, PORALG, TDA and TANCDA visited five secondary schools in Arusha (Nshupu, Muungano, Ilboru, Njiro and Edmund Rice) where they raised awareness to students on NCDs and risk factors. 

The students who asked or answered questions were chosen as champions and got a chance to participate during the NCD week where they attended the scientific conference. A few attended the walk on the 13th

The event closed on the 13th, with a walk from Mgambo Grounds to Sheir Amri Abeid Grounds.  The Minister of Health, Hon. Dorothy Gwajima, took the lead in the walk.

She was joined by Deputy Permanent Secretary, Hon. Grace Magembe, from PORALG. Hon Dorothy Gwajima urged the community to check their health regularly and do exercises frequently. She also urged them to join the National Health Insurance Fund so as to protect their health. In addition, she highlighted the need for people to be vaccinated while taking every precaution to avoid COVID-19.

The launch of the National Strategic Plan for prevention and control of NCDs 2021-2016 crowned the event.

Launching of the National Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of NCDs 2021-2026

Award Giving

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EAC Secretary General Pledges Stronger Partnership on NCDs

Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General (6L), poses with regional representatives of NCD bodies, in Arusha, on Nov. 11, 2021

On 11th November, 2021, Hon. Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, the Secretary General of the East African Community chaired a meeting in Arusha Tanzania, at which he expressed his determination to strengthen the partnership with EANCDA aimed at ensuring that the region is free of NCDs.

He told the meeting of regional representatives that he would ensure that it gets observer status of contributing to policy formulation and implementation on NCDs prevention, management and control within the region.

This entails the EANDA creating a desk on NCDs at the East Africa Community Secretariat under the Health Department. The Desk would be an active centre point with staff focusing on the following:

  • Ensuring that NCDs discussions and engagements in numerous Technical Working Groups are undertaken
  • Ensuring that NCDs become a separate agenda item at EAC Heads of State Summit
  • Preparing and conducting joint meetings to advocate for the Prioritization of NCDs 
  • Managing and coordinating the development of position papers and ensuring that papers are presented and discussed by the Council of Ministers of Health and subsequently other Ministerial Councils.
  • Ensuring that recommendations from the position papers are presented and discussed at the Heads of States Summit. 

Partnering against NCDs

The EAC is an intergovernmental organization of the Republic of Burundi, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Uganda, aligned to Article 118 of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community that calls for regional cooperation in health among the Partner States.

To achieve its mission of seeing East Africa free from NCDs, NCD Alliance East Africa has embarked on a strategic approach of entering into multi-sectoral and inclusive partnerships with organizations committed to fighting NCDs at both national, regional and global level. The organization is widening its partnership spectrum of stakeholders including Companies, Foundations, Governments, Development Agencies, Academia and NGOs, aimed at enhancing its ability to support the NCD community and drive success within the region.

At the regional level, the framework and Costed Action Plan would act as guiding principles for East Africa’s response to addressing NCDs over a five-year period (2021-2025). The document will incorporate key learnings from the strategies of the respective Member Alliances of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Zanzibar; inspired by and aligned to key policies and plans. The document is also expected to have critical stakeholders’ involvement and key operational priority interventions. 

Ms. Caroline Akope, the Programmes Manager at NCD Alliance East Africa, says a committee to oversee the smooth running of the task has been constituted.

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