15 February 2013

Gambia: Health Journalists Sensitized On Non-Communicable Diseases

The ministry of health and social welfare has convened a one-day sensitization for health journalists at the central medical stores for journalists to be abreast with the different non communicable diseases and how to filter the information down to the general public.

Modou Njai, the director of health promotion and education at the ministry of health and social welfare, thanks the association of health journalists and its President Ms Fatou Touray for their foresight in the promotion of health. He said in the history of his career as a health worker he has not come across any country that have an association of health journalists. He said NCDs have gone beyond cancer and diabetes but road traffic incidents are not an exception. He challenged the media to continue its pivotal role in giving the general public the relevant health issues they need. Mr. Njie said working with the media is high on the agenda of health promotion. He stated that lack of physical exercise, excessive alcohol use, and smoking is a contributing factor to these NCDs.

Director Njai urged parents to discourage sending children to buy cigarettes for them, excessive use of jimbo and salt which he said are not health. He said poor eating habit is a problem in the society. He called on parents to train their children on consuming fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Kebba Bojang, RVTH, said discussing the issues of NCDs are very important, that some patients do not understand their conditions that's why the media is key in this sensitization. He also buttressed the important role the media play in the society. He said in the Gambia now, NCDs are more common just like HIV/Aids; that if you are not infected, you are affected. Because he said If you don't have it, your relative may have it.

Mr. Momodou Gassama, the health promotion and Communications Officer at World Health Organisation said 30 years ago some of these NCDs were not present in the country but today studies have proven that they are common and are increasing day by day.

In his presentation on tobacco smoking, he said poor people are the smokers and this could be attributed to ignorance. He said in the Gambia statistics have shown that parents who smoke are likely to pass the habit to their children. He noted that anybody who smokes he/she should be aware that you are consuming 4000 different chemicals.

He said there is substantial evidence that alcohol consumption can lead to hypertension. He said 36 million out of 57 million is caused by NCDs. Tobacco are leading factors to NCDs. Mr. Gassama said drinking is a risk factor to suicide.

Mr. Lamin Sanyang of Non-Communicable Diseases Unit welcomed the participants. He said the world has put in their resources and the Gambia is not an exception. He said the media has a crucial role to play in the dissemination of information. He noted that the Non Communicable Diseases are on the increase in the country and it needs a collaborative role by all the stake holders. He repeated the old dictum that prevention is better than cure.

Mr. Omar Badjie, who chaired the programme and an NCDs focal point said, they all know the Ministry cannot do it alone.

Mr. Lamin Giana, acting head of National Cancer Registry, MRC, said the institution has been in the Gambia for 26 year but they were a bit dormant but assured that they are making every effort to save cancer patients. Mr. Giana said cancer is alarming in the whole world. He noted that there are five leading cancers in the world. He said in the Gambia liver cancer is the leading killer which is caused by Hepatitis B and causing 10% of the deaths. Hementioned cervical cancer which he said they are trying to introduce and breast cancer he said does not stop at only women. He said they have registered 10 male breast cancers at the RVTH clinic. Lung cancer, he said is what is described as the attitudinal cancer and prostate cancer. He calls on people to go for early checkups.

Commissioner Kinteh presented a paper on road traffic incidence and said sometimes our attitudes can cause accidents. He noted that there are many faulty vehicles on the streets and said people don't even care to use fly overs. He said efforts are being made to tackle congested vehicles. Commissioner Kinteh said his men are trained to look at the eyesight of the drivers before giving out the licenses to drive.

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