Titles of movies are sometimes very impressive but when it comes to chronic Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, just to name but these few, no one wants to be impressed with the reality in Cameroon.
KYN is an awareness and screening mechanism for NCDs. It is intended to build the capacity and resilience of the population to prevent and control NCDs. To do screening on NCDs, one needs to measure a number of vital health signs such as blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, and blood sugar and sometimes lipids etc. These numbers reflect ones status with respect to biological or metabolic risk factors that can indicate the development of an NCD in ones system. We are exposed daily to lifestyles and environments that require us to keep check of ourselves.
Currently, NCDs account for over 70% of global deaths with (2/3rd) of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In Cameroon, 35% of annual deaths are due to NCDs and prevailing beliefs and cultural practices around risk factors, in addition to challenges in access to healthcare continue to compound the negative impact especially on low-income persons, and households.
For instance, in some societies, obese or overweight people are still viewed as being more affluent or healthy. In some contexts, there is a preference towards some unhealthy canned and oily foods as also being indicative of affluence and good living.
So far, the Program has screened about 30.000 people since 2017 with support from Novartis Access.
In the past, NCDs have not been given as much attention as they should in health care including awareness and screening. Sometimes, it is the cost of screening for these conditions that is responsible for this and in other times, its ignorance. Recently, through a novel approach designed by the CBC Health Services, sensitization and screening for NCDs has gained steam in the public health sector in Cameroon. This is known as the “Know Your Numbers (KYN)” Campaign.
The Know Your Numbers Campaign saw the light of day following the voluntary screening of 370 staff in Banso Baptist Hospital (BBH) in 2012, for basic health vitals such as blood pressure and weight. The results of staff and community members walking with undiscovered hypertension revealed that many cases remain undiagnosed in the community with some morbidity and mortality cases resulting from ignorance and others from negligence.
This overwhelming response in addition to an increasing number of patients that were being attended to in CBC Health Services facilities sick of the different NCDs, necessitated an imminent intervention. In time, the need for comprehensive services led to the establishment of the Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Program (NCD PCP) which modified and cemented the KYN Campaign into an NCD prevention strategy that is promising for brewing healthy populations.
“Routine screening for NCDs is not helpful unless you want to know your numbers,” said Prof. Mbanya in expressing how important it is for one to keep track once in a while on their vital health numbers and over time, understand its trends while keeping themselves healthy.
We continue to encourage people to get to a KYN facility, and know their numbers at least once or twice a year.