Malawi to Get UN Award for NCDs - Health Minister Mhango Says Kudos to Mutharika

Women sitting in Milepa Health Centre waiting room to be screened for cervical cancer (file photo).
22 September 2019

The United Nations is on Monday expected to give Malawi an award for the outstanding work and contribution the country is making in achieving the Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) related Sustainable Development Goals.

The country will receive the United Nations Interagency Task Force for the Prevention and Control of NonCommunicable Diseases Award through the Ministry of Health and Population.

"The award will be presented during the UN High Level Meeting at the UN Interagency Task Force for the Prevention and Control on Non Communicable Diseases Friends of the Task Force Side Event on Monday, 23rd September 2019 in the UN Building," said Dr. Charles Mwansambo, Malawi's Chief of Health Services in an interview at the UN in New York.

Mwansambo said Malawi is getting the award because of several strategies the country put place in the fight against NCDs. These include establishment of NCDs unit in 2011 with the aim to coordinate the national response to NCDs and enhanced community mobilization on NCDs and educating patients in health facilities and communities and strengthening capacity of healthcare providers in managing patients with NCDs and monitoring and evaluation of NCDs in health facilities.

"We also introduced Human Papiloma Virus Vaccine (HPV) targeting nine year old girls and we also launched the NCDs Lancet Commission two years ago with the aim to rethink about global policies and mend a great disparity in health and broaden the current NCD agenda in the interest of equity," said Mwansambo.

"Malawi is establishing the Emergency Medical Services dedicated to providing out of hospital emergency medical care to save lives and prevent disability," said Mwansambo.

NCD is a disease that is not transimitted directly from one person to another. NCDs include most heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, epilepsy, mental health disorders and injuries including violence accelerated trauma.

Most NCDs are caused as a direct result of lifestyle and environmental factors.

Mwansambo said in the 1960s and 1970s, NCDs were not an important public health problem as prevalence was one percent but undernutrition was a major public health problem with 36 percent of adults being undernourished while overweight was less than seven percent.

"Now NCDs and their risk factors constitute a public health and these diseases contribute more than 30 percent of disease burden and are ranked 4th as a cause of disability adjusted life years," Mwansambo said.

Minister of Health and Population, Jappie Mhango, who is attending the UNGA, said Malawi was able to get the award because of President Peter Mutharika's administration which he said has provided conducive environment for the factors to deal with NCDs.

"NCDs are a global problem. As a country, we are happy to receive this award. This is a motivator to us to do more.

"This is a call for us to redouble our efforts. We thank President Professor Peter Mutharika for supporting my ministry to achieve this award," said Mhango.

Malawi is among the rest of the world attending this year's UNGA in New York which is under the theme: "Galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion."

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