NCD Experts Want Screening Introduced in Primary Health Care Services

According to the experts, the screening will allow people to know whether they face the risk of developing NCDs like Diabetes or High blood pressure.
Non-Communicable Disease experts want pre-NCDs screening introduced in the primary health care service. 

According to the experts, the screening will allow people to know whether they face the risk of developing NCDs like Diabetes or High blood pressure. This knowledge will help them stop unhealthy habits such as consuming processed sugars which is one of the substances that could lead to diseases such as obesity.

They recommend the provision of blood sugar tests for type 2 diabetes, blood pressure screening for high blood pressure and blood fat tests that can be used to determine whether one is at risk to suffer from either diabetes or high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even heart disease. 

They want the tests to be carried out at all facilities starting with health centre IIs to regional referral hospitals. Currently, primary health care services focus on health education, immunization, maternal and child health care and sanitation.

Dr Roy William Mayege, an NCD specialist says that screening will enable would-be NCD patients to take control of their lives and make the right health decisions. He says many NCDs can be avoided if people eat right or exercise frequently. 

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According to Dr Mayege currently, screening services can only be accessed at general hospitals.

Health centres that are nearer to people cannot carry out screening because they lack equipment and technical skill to test or manage the conditions.

The experts say that the introduction of NCD-screening will help prevent complications that often lead to long hospital admission or death in some cases.

Dr Susan Nakireka Tumwesigye, a diabetes expert says that the screening will stop avoidable deaths.

"Screening is needed because so many times we see people coming to hospitals late with NCDs and many of them develop complications that lead to death some tines. The screening will help people manage what they have even before they develop symptoms that often come late, “she said.

Unlike other diseases where symptoms are used to make a diagnosis, experts say that in the case of NCDs, symptoms normally present when the disease has run out of hand.

"It can take someone 15 years to ever develop diabetes symptoms but during this time, the damage is occurring within the body but they do not know. They feel fine and live life normally while they are hurting their bodies.

Dr Mayege says that the cost of carrying out screening is less compared to the cost of treating or managing an NCD. He says testing on average costs shillings 100,000 but treatment or management can cost up to millions of shillings.

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According to the ministry of health, over two million people in the country have NCDs or NCD related diseases like kidney failure. This number is expected to increase.