In light of the ever growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), East African Development Bank (EADB) is rolling out an ambitious medical training programme aimed at sensitizing the citizenry of four East African states; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda where EADB has operations.
The programme; East African Development Bank Medical Training and Fellowship Programme aims at increasing the number, quality and deployment of medical professionals in public service so as to cushion the burden of NCDs. Over a four year period, the program aims to have trained 600 medical professionals specializing in the treatment of cancer and neurological disorders in the East African region.
Ms. Vivienne Yeda, the Director General of EADB says that the program will focus on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders especially in communities and areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.
“EADB’s overriding objective is to promote social and economic development of the member states. We have thus identified Non Communicable Diseases as an area that is often not taken too seriously despite the severity,” she explains.
Ms. Yeda also disclosed that EADB sought the partnership of the British Council and the Royal College of Physicians in this initiative. The launch is slated for August 12, 2016 in Nairobi and the first training scheduled to kick off in late September 2016.
Non Communicable Diseases are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors are an emerging problem in East Africa although the focus has been directed to infectious diseases to a greater extent. EADB is thus extending a supporting arm so as to raise awareness of the severity of NCDs.
These diseases are driven by forces that include ageing, rapid unplanned urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. For example, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles like unhealthy diets may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids, and obesity. These are called ‘intermediate risk factors’ which can lead to cardiovascular disease, a NCD.
All age groups and regions are affected by NCDs. Very often, these illnesses are associated with older age groups, but evidence shows that 16 million of all deaths attributed to NCDs occur before the age of 70. Of these ‘premature’ deaths, 82% occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
Children, adults and the elderly alike are all vulnerable to the risk factors that contribute to Non-communicable diseases, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the effects of the harmful use of alcohol.