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Uganda’s health centres cannot manage Non communicable diseases -study

FILE PHOTO: UCI, on of few places where cancer patients can be taken care of with treatment.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lower level health Centres in Uganda do not have the ability to detect, manage and treat Non-Communicable Diseases.

This is according to a study carried out by the Uganda Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance-UNCDA, an umbrella body that brings together the Uganda Cancer Society, Uganda Heart Research Foundation and the Uganda Diabetes Association.

The study was carried out AT Health Centre III’s and Health Centre IV’s in the districts of Kasese, Mubende, Nakasongola, Gulu, Luuka, Serere, Tororo and Arua, where 16 health facilities were sampled between 2018 and January 2019. The study shows that 60 per cent of health centres did not have knowledge about Non-Communicable Diseases, drugs to treat or even equipment required to handle specific ailments.

None of the facilities carried out community health education to manage NCDs like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer, among others. Some did not have even the most basic equipment like weighing machines and blood pressures machines.

UNCDA Program Manager Christopher Kwizera says that most health workers stationed at the health facilities did not have the general knowledge or skill to detect and treat Non-Communicable Diseases.

Kwizera says the facilities did not have any sort of record keeping tool, and as such, no data is available about on patients suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases in the different health centres visited.

It is estimated that up to 100,000 Ugandans die annually from Non-Communicable Diseases. To reduce the occurrence of Non-Communicable Diseases related deaths, the study recommends the improvement of the health care system infrastructure to meet the Non-Communicable Diseases burden in the country.

Dr Gerald Mutungi, the commissioner of Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health says the findings of the study are not surprising. He says most health facilities at health centre III and IV are not equipped to handle such conditions.

“Health workers at that level are not used to managing Non-Communicable Diseases. Non Communicable Diseases are new to them and this can also be seen in their orders to National Medical Stores. They always ask for equipment and drugs to handle what they know.”

Mutungi says the ministry is now sensitizing health workers at this level on how to manage Non-Communicable Diseases.

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