Next year all health centres in the country will have Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) clinics. These will help patients suffering from chronic diseases get better access to quality care and easier access to information about prevention and early detection.
The development was revealed by the head of NCD division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Gilles Ndayisaba, at the just concluded Rwanda medical Association‘s annual scientific conference.
Dr Ndayisaba told Rwanda Today that all new NCD clinics will be operational at health centres by June 2018. The new clinics are expected to contribute to the prevention and treatment of NCDs by decentralising health services, which are offered at district-level hospitals and private clinics.
“We are currently training medical practitioners who will be working in those clinics,” said Dr Ndayisaba.
According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre, about 40 per cent of health centres currently have an integrated NCD clinic that offer follow-up services and screening for cervical cancer among other services.
The country, like many sub-Saharan states, struggles with dealing with an NCD health burden due to the high cost of treating the diseases and lack of awareness among the population.
Data from Rwanda Biomedical Centre shows that NDCs kill 40 million people every year around the world, which is equivalent to 70 per cent of all deaths globally.
The diseases account for 36 per cent of all deaths in Rwanda, while the probability of dying from the four main NCDs between the age of 30 and 70 years is 19 per cent.
The four main types are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
In a related development, Rwanda Military Hospital in Kanombe will next year bring in a Radio-Therapy-machine, which is used in cancer treatment. It will be the first in the country and will come as a relief for patients who have to travel abroad to get similar services.
The high cost of treating chronic diseases and chemotherapy have been cited as some of the key challenges. Diagnosis services such as chemotherapy and heart surgery are some of most expensive.
Official statistics show cardiovascular diseases constitute 13 per cent of NCDs; while cancer is at seven per cent; chronic respiratory diseases account for one per cent; diabetes two per cent, while other NCDs account for 12 per cent.
Last year, the committee for Social Affairs, Human rights and Petitions at the Senate presented a report on the state of NCDs with a focus on the challenges that hamper prevention and treatment.
Lack of awareness, few specialists and equipment were cited among key factors that lead to increased NCDs. Another concern is on health insurance, which in most cases does not cover the cost associated with treating NCDs.