Despite sufferings and deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Cameroon, many know little or nothing about them . Through the Know Your Numbers (KYN) initiative supported by Novartis Access, the NCD Program of the CBC Health Services has been reaching out to communities through various media platforms to raise awareness.
Awareness creation, sensitization and education on NCDs reached new heights during a media tour featuring audiovisual, social and print media platforms in January 2019. The team, comprising Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant (Program Manager), Dr. Epie Njume(Clinical Adviser)and Nadege Ngeh (Communications Officer), gave talks in key major media organs in Cameroon including Radio Hot Cocoa, CBC radio, Abakwa, Ndefcam, Cameroon Radio and Television, Equinox, Canal 2 English, and Spectrum Television. The Independent Observer Newspaper amongst others also published articles on this air-wave-hit tour.
“If inaction continuous, non – communicable disease will take a bad toll on a population with limited knowledge on their prevention and this can be devastating” Prof. Tih Pius Director of CBC Health Services Forewarned in one of his interviews on the Health Mirror.
NCDs are currently the world’s number one killer responsible for more than 70% of annual global deaths and for the purposes of global focus, NCDs have been classified into four major categories namely, Cardiovascular diseases (such as Strokes, Hypertension and Heart Diseases), Cancers (All types of cancers), Diabetes, and Chronic Respiratory diseases. These four are responsible for the highest number of NCD deaths (82%) and share four modifiable risk factors; tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity.
Other NCDs include; Mental health disorders, Sickle Cell, Trauma, and stress is a major not-too-talked-about risk factor.
The audience had the unique opportunity to get this information first-hand as the team went from media house to media house, interviewing for both news, audio and visual shows including Cameroon Feeling, Highlands Show, the Forum, etc.
In Cameroon, NCDs are responsible for 35% of annual deaths as of 2016, an increase from 31% in 2010 according to WHO statistics.
In 2013, the surge in the numbers of cases presenting with these diseases prompted the CBC Health Services, a major Healthcare Provider in Cameroon, to initiate a comprehensive response to tackle them. This started with a Situational Analysis of NCD cases between 2011– 2015 which showed a 40% increase in new cases, depicting the severity of the problem and the need for an urgent response.
“The CBC Health Services’ NCD Prevention and Control program’s vision is to see Communities free from avoidable burden of NCDs. Hence activities seek to help reduce deaths, illnesses and disabilities from avoidable NCDs. Awareness creation is one of our major pillars, to educate the community on the rising burden of NCDs, their risk factors, and prevention. Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant reiterated this mission across during the tour.
He said that “the hope is always that, raising awareness on these NCDs and their risk factors should help the communities adopt healthier lifestyles and environmental choices that can help reduce their exposure to avoidable NCDs”.
The team also strongly highlighted the importance of avoiding risk factors; tobacco use, second-hand and biofuel smokes and others and advised the communities to avoid alcohol misuse, encouraged regular physical exercise, and to eat healthy with more fruits and vegetables.
The sessions did not go into too much details of each disease or risk factor constituted an overview, insinuating that the listeners need to know more. As such, more awareness needs to be created across these platforms as a way of keeping the community aware and joining the fight to #beatNCDs in Cameroon.
“Not everything that is sweet in the mouth is good for the body, and not everything that is good for the body is sweet in the mouth” I love this phrase. Heard it yesterday on Equinox TV from your NCD expert: Testified Kwajika Nyumbof on CBC Health Services Facebook page.
This program was made possible by support from Novartis Access.