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Journalists trained on proper dissemination of information on Non-Communicable Diseases

  • In General
  • 4 Dec 2017 - 6:30pm
  • By Elias Tuhereze
  • 571
Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration)-Prof. William Bazeyo(Centre) speaking at the Training. On his left is the Chairperson Board of Trustees, SAIU-H.E. King Caesar Augustus Mulenga  and the Principal, College of Health Sciences - Dr Charles Ibingira (R)

Over 30 journalists from both mainstream and online media have been urged to consider the urgency of public awareness on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Convening at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala, on Monday 4th December 2017, journalists were called upon to take the initiative and save the community from the rapid growing burden of NCDs epidemic through their professional expertise.

“Through you, we can save the community. We therefore need your expertise as we dig deeper in this matter. I am aware of your positive reporting on HIV that was rated the best information mechanism in the whole world. With your experience in research, investigation, writing, interaction, and dissemination, you let the world understand what HIV was, it’s causes and how to prevent it. This is what we need at this moment. The community needs to know about NCDs and how they can be prevented. This is a matter of urgency so we need to collaborate,” said Prof. William Bazeyo-Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Makerere University.

Non-Communicable Diseases represent a growing burden of morbidity and mortality globally. NCDs are now included in the sustainable Development Goals with the aim to reduce by one third premature deaths due to NCDs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that by 2025, 70% of all deaths in people less than 70 years of age will be due to NCDs and that 80% of these deaths will occur in Low and middle income countries. It is also estimated that 28 million people in low and middle income countries die each year from an NCD. In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa which includes 48 low and middle income countries is expected to have the world’s largest increase in the burden of NCD- related death over the next decade.

The NCD Media training is one of the pre-activities organised by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and St Augustine International University in preparation of the 1st International Non Communicable Diseases Symposium that will take place from 12th -15th February 2018 at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Officially opened by Prof. William Bazeyo-the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, the media training aimed at providing journalists with a deeper understanding of Non-Communicable Diseases and to also encourage them to pay much attention to information received on the diseases when reporting.

Addressing journalists at Sheraton Hotel Kampala, Prof. Bazeyo urged journalists to always have a cross check the accuracy of facts and figures before publishing any information. In the same spirit, he advised researchers and concerned members to always avail information to the media in order to avoid dissemination of wrong information.

“We need to engage the media so that they fully understand the initiative, this will not only give us a positive and wider coverage of the matter, but also help the journalists understand the cause and report appropriately. Our cordial relationship with them will help us send the message to the last person in the community hence reaching the target we want. Let us actively engage them in this noble cause,” he said.

In Uganda, NCDs including injuries account for 40% of all deaths each year. In a presentation he made Dr. Bruce Kirega said that Uganda recorded an estimated 21,542 deaths from cancer and 4,690 deaths from diabetes in 2012 and 2016 respectively. Dr. Kirega also revealed that 1.3% of Ugandans are still battling with diabetes and Chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“In addition to that, The Risk factor survey found out that about one in four adults (24.3%) had raised blood pressure or had been taking medication for raised blood pressure. Moreover majority of those with raised blood pressure (76.1%) were not aware of their condition and not taking any medicine,” he said.

He cautioned the public on the use of tobacco, excessive drinking of alcohol and being physically inactivity as the major risk factors for NCDs. “The rate at which Ugandans smoke and consume alcohol is alarming. This is a country where many Ugandans are physically inactive, and majority of them do not consume fruits and vegetables to recommended levels,” he mentioned.

Despite the evidence of a high burden of NCDs and their risk factors globally and in Uganda, the response to these diseases in Uganda is still minimal. According to the Principal of College of Health Sciences, Prof. Charles Ibingira, the minimal response to the NCDs by Ugandans has been due to low public awareness about the diseases, and weak health systems that are aligned to only communicable diseases and limited data to support the design of presentation and intervention.

“Many Ugandans have died due to lack of knowledge about the diseases. So many of them have gone to hospitals only to be diagnosed of cancer in its advanced stages. Another issues is that we have weak and poorly facilitated health centres with no screening equipment,” he said.

He encouraged the public to support the awareness drive that the College of Health Sciences together with St Augustine International University is organising to enable the society understand the preventative measures for Non-Communicable Diseases. The Principal urged the Government to support health centres with equipment and necessary facilitation in line with Non Communicable Disease prevention and awareness. He also encouraged people to go for screening so as to start treatment early in case they are found positive.

Reiterating the importance of research, the Chairman of St Augustine International University H.E King Caesar Augustus Mulenga, said that there is a need to invest in research on Non-Communicable Diseases. He therefore called upon the public to embrace the idea of establishing a research fund that will enable researchers to collect data aimed at finding lasting solutions on Non Communicable Diseases.

He advised all Ugandans to join the fight against Non Communicable Diseases when he said, “We should stop the habit of lamenting that it is always the Government that is supposed to work on each and very thing, we can also do something constructive. Through fundraising, we can be able to raise a good amount of money that can provide facilities in our health centres. Before you ask yourself what the country has done for you, ask yourself what you have done for your country.”

The 1st International Non Communicable Diseases Symposium will take place from 12th -15th February 2018 at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Organised by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and St Augustine International University under a theme: “Building momentum to address the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa,” the symposium focuses on creating attention to the NCDs epidemic in Uganda and the region among general public, business community, researchers, clinicians, funders, and policy makers that will result into a formidable multi-disciplinary response to stop the epidemic. It also aims at creating networks and consortium that will generate data and design interventions for prevention, early detection and treatment of NCDs as well as creating national policies, frameworks and multi-disciplinary health systems to curb the ill health and early deaths from the Diseases.

The symposium will run with a series of activities that started with the media training. Other activities including screening in different places of the country. “We will have a screening activity going on at the College of Health Science, and Parliament of Uganda to screen the public and Members of Parliament, Ministers among others, this is one way of creating awareness as well as providing information about the Non-Communicable Diseases,” said the Dean School of Medicine, Makerere University.

Other activities that will be carried out ahead of the Symposium include the Fundraising Dinner that will be held on 12th December 2017, with the aim of supporting and raising money for the Research Fund. “St Augustine International University will pioneer the fundraising drive with 100 million. Let us learn how to support the noble cause,” said H.E King Caesar Augustus Mulenga.

Article by: Mak Public Relations Office

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