Non Communicable But Virulent

“Non communicable is one side of the coin. The other is the devastating impact and cost of NCDs. Would you rather roost on the non-communicable or act to lower the burden both for the afflicted and the affected?”

Today marks the last day of the Global Week for Action on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). On the background the rallying call to action has been on accountability as a crucial force for good governance, political and programming change. As noble and powerful as the rallying call is unless we take it up to act it will just be a call.

As a healthcare worker, I get to interact with patients from varied walks of life going through different faces of life. Mark you I’m a patient as well considering at any one stage of our existence we are in need of healthcare services (health promotion, disease prevention, curative, rehabilitative or palliative services). This is one thing that makes we contend with my humanity and service to my patients and ways I can do better to lessen their suffering. Other times you picture their families, the pain they go through, the financial cost on them and how they wish there could be a magic wand that would rid their loved one of the condition.

I have revolved around different phases of the whole spectrum i.e. relative, caregiver and a patient. It’s not the best moment to phase and if at any one point the suffering could stop, you’d wish it away. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. In 2007, I lost my maternal grandmother to esophageal cancer then ten (10) years I lost my paternal uncle to gastric cancer. It’s a pain you wouldn’t wish your worst enemy especially at the last phase when they are counting moments to their exit. With most NCDs being chronic conditions, it’s worth noting that a person in pain holds on any hope they can get. In the case of my grandmother, I saw my parents, aunts and uncles try every option that gave hope of a cure. It was at this time that I came to know of a brand (Tianshi) that was in the country prying on vulnerable individuals selling hope to them. Registered as dealers in nutritional supplements but they promise one of a cure and the cost of it you can imagine.

Today as part of our Health Round Up discussion and here on this article my call to you is as simple as it can get, we are all affected by non communicable diseases whether directly or indirectly. Being subjective and emotional beings when we can visualize the pain close to us we can seek redress and that’s where we should all start. In our efforts, let’s look at the drivers of NCDs and what makes them persistent e.g. tobacco smoking, unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyle, harmful alcohol use and environmental factors such as exposure to toxic chemicals such as lead, asbestos etc. Once we can identify one of these we can act to reduce their burden by advocating for action through matters such as higher taxation on unhealthy foods, tobacco products, alcohols among others. In the same track we can seek adoption of physical exercises as part of national health programs integrated into the primary healthcare schemes.

Beyond advocacy at the policy and governance level, we need to act at our personal, family and community level by adopting healthy practices, promoting utilization of healthcare services for those who need them starting from medical checkups, screening exercises, medication adherence and treatment plan monitoring to ensure patients achieve positive treatment outcomes. It’s a conscious decision that we have to make for the betterment of our societies otherwise the burden keeps ballooning and there’s not much changing in our behaviours.

When COVID-19 came we all adopted infection prevention and control measures because it was communicable. NCDs may not be communicable but the harm and pain they cause the world is exponential. Let’s act right and act now.

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