5 December 2017

Burundi: NCDs - Silent Killer Diseases That Can Be Controlled

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Non communicable diseases-NCDs still kill and threaten Burundians silently. Burundi Non communicable Disease Alliance has organised a two-day- workshop to raise awareness of how the diseases can be prevented and controlled.

The four main groups of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (heart or cerebrovascular accidents), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma ... ) and metabolic diseases (diabetes, gout ... ). They kill silently and most Burundians still ignore that they can be prevented and controlled.

Francois Ndikumwenayo, a lecturer at the University of Burundi and President of Burundi Non communicable Disease Alliance (BNCD), says NCDs can be controlled and even prevented. "There are modifiable factors of risk namely behavioural risk factors: smoking, sedentary lifestyle, abusive use of alcohol, poor nutrition, metabolic and physiological factors", says Ndikumwenayo.

He also says NCDs and poverty form a vicious circle. " Poverty reinforces behavioural risk factors and resulting NCDs can in turn drive families into the spiral of poverty", he says.

He says there is still a long way to go in Burundi as around 80% of Burundians get treatment in health centres and are mainly assisted by nurses.

As for Alexis Nizigiyimana, BNCDA program manager, non-communicable diseases kill 38 million people annually worldwide. He adds that according to studies conducted; eighty percent of these deaths are primarily premature and occur in low- and middle-income countries. For him, Burundi is exposed and it is better to have volunteers who can not only spread the word but also assist people with NCDs.

Nizigiyimana says the young volunteers will help to lead citizen driven advocacy for prevention and control of NCDs.

Ornella Munezero, a young student in the faculty of medicine and participant in the workshop, appreciates the initiative to raise the awareness of the NCDs. "Apart from the theories I learn at the university, this is a good opportunity to know and transfer the knowledge immediately to the community", she says.

Munezero says this has boosted her knowledge and helped others who are not in the health sector to learn more about NCDs. "Most of the people do not know that they can prevent NCDs. We are trained to be change makers. I believe we will impact positively on the community and save lives", she says.

A healthy diet, doing physical activity and avoiding the excessive use of sugar are among others the good practices that people can adopt to prevent and control NCDs.

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