iseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, are claiming the lives of many Ugandans at an increasing rate.
But the fight against such diseases in Uganda is hampered by various challenges such as lack of specialists. For instance, according to a Daily Monitor report published on April 28, there are only 20 cancer specialists in the country and only one is a pediatric oncologist, yet the country records 6,000 cancer cases in children every year. Other hindrances are lack of modern facilities at health centres, and high cost of treatment; the few who can afford are taken for better treatment to places such as India or Nairobi, Kenya. But even this does not guarantee survival as many are only referred elsewhere when the disease has highly progressed.
This brings us back to where the fight should start, which is prevention or early diagnosis. However, this can only be done when the population is made aware.
A story this newspaper reported yesterday highlights the need for preventive measures. Mbarara District residents, according to the story, blamed the increasing spread of non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes on lack of awareness.
The concern was raised at the weekend during a cervical cancer camp facilitated by Spring Community Health Access at Bwizibwera Health Centre IV in Kashaari County. However, the district health educator, Mr Mildard Kazooba Lubega, attributed lack of health education to inadequate manpower and low morale among health workers due to poor pay.
Sensitisation is much cheaper than treatment and prevention, and as we know, is better than cure. Unfortunately, this is not possible if information on diseases is not availed to communities. Diseases such as cancer can be treated if discovered early but this is only possible if people know what signs and symptoms to look out for, hence the need for awareness.
Similarly, diabetes can be prevented or controlled by effective health education. A number of non-governmental organisations have done a good job in carrying out awareness campaigns but they have not reached the entire population. These organisations need to widen their scope but this would require more funding. This is where government and other stakeholders should come in. Extend help to these organisations or better still, partner with them.
All institutions of learning and workplaces should also have health education for students and employees to create awareness and promote good health. We should not have deaths as a result of ignorance.