Titles of movies are sometimes very impressive but when it comes to diseases, no one wants to be impressed with the reality of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic non communicable diseases (NCDs). In the past, NCDs have not been given as much attention as they should in health care including awareness and screening. Sometimes it is the cost of screening for these conditions. But recently, through a novel approach designed by the CBC Health Services, NCDs has gained steam in the public health world. This is known as KYN, the short form for Know Your Numbers.
Birth of Know Your Number
Following the voluntary screening of 370 staff in Banso Baptist Hospital (BBH) in 2012, for basic parameters such as blood pressure and Weight. The results of staff and community members walking with undiscovered hypertension confirmed the fact that many cases remain undiagnosed in the community with some morbidity and mortality cases resulting from ignorance and others from negligence.
This overwhelming response and in addition to an increasing number of patients that were being seen at CBCHS facilities, sick of the different NCDs, the need for an intervention was imminent. In time, the need for comprehensive services led to the establishment of the Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program (NCD PCP) which modified and cemented the KYN Campaign into an NCD prevention strategy that is promising for brewing healthy populations.
KYN is an awareness and screening mechanism for NCDs. It is intended to build the capacity and resilience of the population to prevent and control NCDs. To do screening on NCDs, one needs to measure a number of vital health signs such as blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, and blood sugar and sometimes lipids etc. These numbers reflect one’s status with respect to biological or metabolic risk factors that can indicate the development of an NCD in one’s system. We are exposed daily to lifestyles and environments that require us to keep check of ourselves.
Currently, NCDs account for over 70% of global deaths with (2/3rd) of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In Cameroon, 35% of annual deaths are due to NCDs and prevailing beliefs and cultural practices around risk factors, in addition to challenges in access to health care continue to compound the negative impact especially on low income persons and households.
For instance, in some societies, obese or overweight people are still viewed as being more affluent or healthy. In some contexts there is a preference towards some unhealthy canned and oily foods as also being indicative of affluence of good living.
So Far, the Program has screened about 30.000 people since 2017 with support from Novartis Access.
“Routine screening for NCDs is not helpful unless you want to know your numbers” said Prof. Mbanya in expressing how important it is for one to keep track once in a while on their vital health numbers and overtime, understand its trends while keeping themselves healthy.
We continue to encourage people to get to a KYN facility, and know their numbers at least once a year or twice.