Death Knell is sounding across the region.
Enjoying life among East Africans is also churning death.
It has been reported that more than 40 percent of deaths in the East African Region are now caused by lifestyle driven non-communicable diseases.
The Deputy Executive Secretary of the East African Health Research Commission, Dr Novat Twungubumwe, pointed out that while the East African region is threatened both by Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases, the latter is now overtaking the former.
“There are a number of communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/AIDS that are causing a heavy burden to East African residents’ lives and the economies in the region,” said Dr Twungubumwe.
“But we should also mention other preventable outbreaks including Cholera, Measles, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Yellow Fever, among other ailments,” the health expert maintained.
“In the past, infectious diseases have been a major concern in Africa. However, the attention now is slowly shifting toward non-communicable diseases that are on the rise in many parts of Africa due to various reasons,” he added.
Speaking during the Ninth East African Health and Scientific Conference (EAHSC) taking place at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, Dr Twungubumwe mentioned some of the causes including pollution, westernized diets, reduced physical activity levels, urbanization, and increased tobacco and alcohol consumption.
He said in East Africa, more than 40 percent of all medical deaths are attributable to Non communicable diseases.
“The five major Non-Communicable Diseases include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, mental illness and diabetes and other non-communicable conditions like sickle cell disease, injuries and disabilities which are now highly prevalent in East Africa,” he added.
On the other hand Health experts in the East African Community Partner States have been advised to start deploying new and modern technologies to manage emerging diseases.
Minister of Health, in Rwanda, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, believes digital technologies would enable East African Countries to use limited personnel and resources to make access to healthcare simpler and better for their citizens.
“Strategizing on the scaling up of digital technologies and emphasizing their use would promote real time monitoring of disease outbreaks and responses,” Dr Nsanzimana maintained.
The Minister observed that the Covid-19 pandemic exposed African countries’ vulnerabilities and gaps in their healthcare systems, adding that there was a need for experts in the health sector to be more innovative, work faster and smarter in improving healthcare.
Officiating the 9th East African Health and Scientific Conference (EAHSC) in Kigali, the Minister emphasized the importance of increasing the life expectancy of East Africans urging the EAC Partner States’ governments to implement the resolutions of the bi-annual health and scientific conferences in order to create better and stronger health systems in the region.
On his part, the Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of the East African Community Dr Abdi Dubat Fidhow, disclosed that the Republic of Kenya has been implementing the research findings and recommendations of the previous scientific conferences, adding that the country fully committed to implementing the research findings and recommendations from the Conference.
Also present was Burundi’s EAC Affairs PS, Mr. Severin Mbarubukeye, the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Health, South Sudan, Dr. Adier Machar Achiek, and Mr. Zachee Iyakayemre, the PS in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.