Health

Non-communicable diseases, threat to the world

Burundi Non-Communicable Disease Alliance in collaboration with East Africa Non- Communicable Disease Alliance has organized this 28 March a workshop on exchanges and advocacy over non-communicable diseases [NCDs]. Patients say they face various challenges.

Spès Caritas Nsavyimana: “The inaccessibility to care and expensive treatment are the major causes of this warning about the potential threat that NCDs represent to the population”

Spès Caritas Nsavyimana: “The inaccessibility to care and expensive treatment are the major causes of this warning about the potential threat that NCDs represent to the population”

“The treatment of diabetes is very expensive while we are financially challenged”, says Firmat Nininahazwe, a diabetic in his thirties. He says diabetic patients do not have any support if they do not belong to any association. “Diabetes treatment is free for children. For those aged over 25 years, it is chargeable”.

Denise Butoyi, 55, a breast cancer survivor, says it is not easy to diagnose non- communicable diseases in Burundi.

“We must go abroad to diagnose cancer. Nowadays, Burundians have to go to Rwanda but it is too expensive and there are always many people waiting for the treatment”, she says.

Butoyi also says cancer drugs are virtually nonexistent in Burundi. “I used to take prescribed tablets from India where my breast cancer had been diagnosed and treated”, she says.

For her, the government should seek partners to promote the treatment of non-communicable diseases. “Other countries work hand in hand with partners or countries which already treat them.

Deterioration of the socio-economic situation, another cause of NCDs

Spès Caritas Nsavyimana, Chairperson of Burundi Non-Communicable Disease Alliance, says the inaccessibility to care and expensive treatment are the major causes of this warning about the potential threat that non-communicable diseases represent to the population. The Ministry of Public Health has promoted since long ago the treatment of communicable and infectious diseases ignoring non-communicable ones. “Unfortunately, there aren’t any data of seroprevalence rate of NCDs but the number of people dying increases day after day”, she says.

Innocent Nkurunziza, Director of chronic and non-communicable diseases department in the Ministry of Health says NCDs are a real challenge in the country. “The priority was given to communicable diseases forgetting that NCDs kill many people”, he says.

For him, the main cause of those diseases is the deterioration of people’s socio-economic situation. “We are seeking strong partnership between Burundi Government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations including the civil society to tackle the issue”, he says.

In 2008, 80% of deaths (29 million) that occurred in low- and middle-income countries in the world were caused by non-communicable diseases. In the middle-income countries, there was a higher proportion of premature deaths, i.e. people dying before turning 70 years of age than in high-income countries (48% versus 26%). According to WHO projections, the annual number of deaths due to non-communicable diseases will reach 55 million by 2030 if nothing is done.

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