Byo hospitals overburdened by non-communicable diseases

Health officials in Bulawayo are calling for a more robust government effort to raise awareness about non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as hospitals grapple with a surge in patients suffering from these illnesses.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting in the city, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, the clinical director of Mpilo Hospital, said there is a need for increased public education on the dangers of NCDs.

“We urgently need to raise awareness about these diseases among the population to save lives,” Prof Ngwenya stated. “We’re witnessing a concerning rise in non-communicable diseases, which significantly burden our healthcare system. These diseases include hypertension, strokes, diabetes, kidney diseases, HIV, cancer, and even assault cases.”

Prof Ngwenya highlighted cancer as a particularly worrying NCD, with many patients seeking treatment only when the disease is already advanced.

“We have approximately 70 patients on renal dialysis, and that number is steadily increasing,” he said. “Sadly, roughly one or two people succumb to cancer every day. This is a major concern for us as clinicians. While Mpilo can offer cancer screening, specifically for cervical cancer, and treatment for early-stage diseases, including surgery for moderately advanced cases, we have limited options for patients with advanced stages (stages three and four). Unfortunately, these patients often die at the rate I’ve mentioned.”

Zimbabwe, along with many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, faces a significant burden of NCDs.

In response, the World Health Organization’s African Region (WHO-Afro) has set ambitious goals. They aim to have 50% of member states implement PEN-Plus services in district hospitals by 2025, 65% by 2028, and 70% by 2030.

PEN-Plus is the WHO-Afro’s regional strategy, adopted by African health ministers in Togo in 2022, to address severe non-communicable diseases in Africa. The strategy is backed by WHO support and represents a commitment to tackling this growing health challenge.

WHO data shows that more than 560,000 preventable deaths occur annually among the world’s poorest children and young adults. Nearly 100,000 of these deaths are attributed to NCDs such as cancers, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, sickle cell disease, rheumatic diseases, and congenital heart disease.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button