Ethiopia Striving to Control Prevalence of NCDs

04 Nov 2017
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Addis Ababa November 04/2017 Ethiopia through the various health sector strategies is striving to control the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

 Three of the deadly non-communicable diseases - cancer, diabetes, and cardio vascular disease - have received due attention, Dr. Muse Gebremichael, NCDs Case Team Leader at the Ministry of Health told ENA.

 The country is working to control the diseases and curb the danger in various ways including raising awareness of the public.

 Awareness creation campaigns have been made all over the country about   these diseases to the people and even health professionals through both print and broadcast media, he said.

 “Training manuals and procedures are prepared for urban health professionals to build their capacity and job aid materials are prepared for rural health professionals about non-communicable disease, their causes and preventive mechanisms,” Dr. Muse said.

 The Ministry has also planned to work in collaboration with schools through the school health program to increase awareness of students, parents and teachers in primary, secondary and higher learning, he added.

 Alongside the prevention mechanism, the Horn African nation is also striving to expand access to treatment.

 In this regard, efforts are being underway to expand treatment services to a number of hospitals across the country so as to enable the public get access to the treatment in the nearby.

 Among all the non-communicable diseases, cancer is the most deadly in Ethiopia. Cancer cases were minimal over several decades; however, in the recent past it has sharply increased both in urban and rural areas.

 In this regard, efforts are being underway to expand cancer treatment services, being provided only at the Black lion Hospital currently, to various hospitals in different parts of the country, Dr. Muse said.

 The Hawassa, Mekelle, Gondar and Felegehiwot referral hospitals are among those that have started the treatment program. In addition, six new health institutions are under construction to widen the service   across the country.

 Dr. Mathewos Assefa, a specialist pathology at the cancer treatment center in Black Lion hospital said the treatment of non-communicable diseases requires joint hands of stakeholders.

 Cancer treatment has been difficult due to lack of physicians and medical equipments, as well as high cost of medicines and therapy, he noted.

  “In the first place cancer treatment cannot be carried out with one physician alone.  It requires a cooperative effort of cancer treatment specialists, operation specialists, pathologists and radiotherapists. Moreover, the expensiveness of medicines given to cancer treatment and radiotherapy machines makes cancer treatment difficult,” Dr. Mathewos said.

 In Ethiopia, the radiotherapist cancer treatment is given only in Black Lion Hospital. But, there are efforts to address this problem, he said.

  “Nowadays cancer treatment centers are being built in five regional towns and at St. Paul Millennium College. The patients will get access when these cancer treatment centers will be completed and start operation. In regard to producing the necessary manpower, Black Lion Hospital has given training for 25 cancer treatment specialists of which 5 of them have been graduated and the rest are at training. When all these individuals finish their training they will go to the   different cancer treatment centers and serve the community,” he explained.

 Solomon Teshome, senior therapist at Black Lion Hospital said even though the hospital has only one radiotherapist machine, the center gives treatment for 90 patients per day.

 “Even though we are dedicatedly working, it has become difficult to reduce the number of queues; because we do our job with only one center and radiotherapist machine,” Solomon said.

 According to WHO report, cancer, cardio vascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases take the lion’s share of deaths – 39 percent – in the country.

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