By Bonkung Handerson & Nadege Ngeh
Edited by Mufuh Ramiro
The risk of more people suffering and dying as a result of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes (often referred to as silent killers) is alarming in Cameroon.
WHO 2011 report revealed that, the estimated cost of adopting NCD treatment strategies in all low and middle-income countries like Cameroon was worth close to USD 11.4 billion per year. WHO 2014 NCD report also showed that 239,000 people died in 2014 as a result of NCD-related diseases in Cameroon, an estimated 31% of the total deaths that same year.
A Situational Analysis conducted by the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services and the Clinical Research Education Network Consultancy Annual Reports recorded a 40% increase in the number of people consulting with and dying from NCDs between 2011 – 2015 in CBC health institutions.
In this regard, the NCD Prevention and Control Program (NCD-PCP) of the CBC Health Services, created in 2016, has embarked on a campaign to fight against NCDs.
Within the framework of this campaign, NCD-PCP has been raising awareness on NCDs, promoting physical exercises, conducting the ‘Know Your Number’ (KYN) with support from the Novartis Access Initiative. The campaign has also been donating medical equipment to improve diabetes and hypertension services in 10 CBC hospitals in Cameroon.
Banso Baptist Hospital (BBH) of the CBC Health Services encouraged by the NCD-PCP recently took the lead in launching sporting activities and inter-departmental competitions in handball, volleyball, football, and dancing, as a way of curbing NCDs.
Justine Wirngo, staff at BBH, has been actively involved in the physical activities during this period. “My Body Mass Index was 29 before we started the sporting activities, but now it has reduced to 27 which I think is a good thing to me,” she rejoiced about the benefits of physical exercise in her life.
According to NCD-PCP Coordinator, Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant, physical dormancy increases the risk of developing NCDs and major health complications like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.
“The first step towards preventing NCDs is preventing overweight and obesity… With physical activities, you feel better, work better and are more productive in your services to the community,” said Ferdinant.
The NCD program of the CBC Health Services with support from the World Diabetes Foundation has donated equipment to upgrade the Diabetes Clinic of BBH. This project seeks to do more than strengthen the clinics by also strengthening the capacity of health care providers to care for NCD patients.
The donated equipment included: 1 electronic Seca weight and height scale, 1 microlife BP cuff with 6 cuffs of different sizes, 50 code free glucometers, 3 neuropens with 20 neurotips, 1 HbA1C machine and 4 registers that also tracks clinical issues. Mr. Mbiydzenyuy says it would be the first time most of the donated equipment are used in Cameroon and within the CBC Health Services.
He adds that these machines are to help especially very needy patients who are constantly not able to afford care due to costs related issues, especially in self-monitoring.
The CBC Director of Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih has strongly encouraged all staff to stay healthy and make an effort to know their numbers as well as engage in physical exercises.
He has noted that, as CBC Health Services clinical staff devotes their lives to take care of patients, they are increasingly aware that it is very important for them to adopt healthy lifestyles as pacesetters in the fight against NCDs.
Dr. Njume imparts Doctors of MBH with better ways of dealing with NCDs
Prior to the outreach and donation of equipment at BBH, the NCD program team was at Ndu Baptist Health Center where a similar donation was made. The same exercise was continued in Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Nkwen Baptist Health Center, and later to other CBC Health Services institutions.