Hundreds of people turned up for free diabetes and high blood pressure tests at Petit Stade in Remera surburb of, Kigali, yesterday, as part of a weeklong health awareness campaign on non-communicable diseases that kicked off last week countrywide.
As part of activities to mark the World Heart Day and World Diabetes Day, the Rwanda Heart Foundation partnered with World Health Organisation to set up testing and counselling centres in five different locations across the country that ran until yesterday.
According to the president of Rwanda Heart Foundation, Dr Joseph Mucumbitsi, the exact figures of people who visited the centres throughout that period will be availed later today.
"Non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiac arrest and high blood pressure are preventable and yet they continue to kill more than 17 million (people worldwide) every year. In Rwanda, the survey to find out how many people suffer from heart related illnesses will be conducted by the Ministry of Health soon, but it is evident that the number of heart patients in Rwanda is high," Mucumbitsi said.
"Through these campaigns, we want to avail Rwandans with early checkups, as well as teach them about prevention because these diseases are usually acquired through the lifestyle we live, such as smoking, drinking and not exercising the body."
He added that although medical advances have been made towards treating heart related illnesses, a significant number of people in developing countries die because they do not test to know their condition.
Peter Rukundo, 34, was among those who turned up to for tests. He believes that it is a wise decision for every Rwandan to find out their health status.
"Such services are usually paid for expensively; to have free diabetes and high blood pressure tests is a positive step that should be embraced by many Rwandans I know who cannot afford them. I came with my wife and child today so that we can know our status and also learn better how to avoid heart diseases," he said.
Non communicable diseases are associated with malnutrition, infection, inherited abnormalities, toxins as well as obesity.
Last year, the Rwandan Diabetes Association and the Ministry of Health diagnosed over 200 people with diabetes during a screening exercise.