By Njoka Divine & Mufuh Ramiro
Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services has launched a Physical Exercise Program to fight against the galloping rate of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Cameroon. The CBC Health Services’ Central Administration Physical Exercise Program was launched on September 13, 2018 at the Baptist Center in Bamenda as part of activities to mark the Global Week against NCDs and the Enough NCDs Campaign initiated by the Global NCDs Alliance.
World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that NCDs are the leading cause of deaths in the world today accounting for up to 41 million deaths every year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.
Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, Director of CBC Health Services, told the media present during the launching that the campaign is to raise awareness against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases.
“The CBC Health Services’ annual reports have continually indicated an increase in the number of people consulting with and dying from NCDs in the previous five years,” said Prof. Tih. He noted that NCDs are silent killers as they manifest only in the later stages when the patient is already dying.
“We are therefore telling all that prevention is key. A preventive measure like physical exercise is medicinal for the health, and can be afforded by almost all,” the public health expert posited. Prof. Tih lamented that a disease like diabetes runs in the family because no one in the family runs. He added that “if we don’t prevent NCDs, NCDs will prevent life from us.”
Non-Communicable Diseases were once considered to be a problem for high-income countries alone. Yet, these diseases now account for more deaths than HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea and all other communicable diseases combined.
A 2014 WHO report revealed that 239,000 people died in Cameroon as a result of NCD related diseases, an estimated 31% of the total deaths that same year.
The representative of the Regional Delegate of Sports and Physical Education in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, Fonye David at the occasion said that the ministry has trained sports and physical education monitors and created Paco Vitas such as the one in Bamenda accessible to members of the public free of charge.
“We look forward to establishing keep-fit groups that will go to communities and encourage people on the importance of physical exercise, so that together with the CBC Health Services we can beat NCDs,” he added.
Mrs. Nfor Claudette, the representative of the Northwest Regional Delegate for Public Health, said NCDs are on the rise in the country and that the government is setting up structures to fight these diseases.
She disclosed that earlier this year the Ministry of Public Health created a National Diabetes and Hypertension Program which is in its pilot phase in the Center and Northwest Regions. “The program has already trained 120 health practitioners in 10 health districts of the Northwest Region to cater for those living with hypertension and diabetes,” noted Mrs. Nfor.
By 2020, she added, the Ministry of Public Health hopes to establish this program in the health districts of all the 10 regions of Cameroon so that we can better raise an alarm and give better health care to those suffering from NCDs.
On September 27 this year 2018, the United Nations is organizing the 3rd UN High Level Meeting in New York on the prevention and control of NCDs. The CBC Health Services’ (Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program (NCD-PCP) Manager, Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant, says the 3rd UN High Level Meeting will be a platform for governments and stakeholders to initiate measures to prevent the continuous spread of NCDs.
He went on to highlight that communities can prevent NCDs, inter alia, by banning tobacco consumption in public places, placing taxes on goods that increase the risk of NCDs on people, and encouraging preventive measures like physical exercise and proper dieting.
“The CBC Health Services through the NCD-PCP with a committed staff has recently been organising programs like the Know Your Numbers (KNY), a service to encourage communities to check their vital signs numbers like blood pressure, body mass index, and waist circumference once every six months. The program has gone operational in 7 health facilities and 7 districts in 5 regions of the country.
We have strengthened our diabetes and hypertension services and trained staff to better take care of patients living with NCDs. We have done a lot of community reach out in Cameroon to educate people on how to prevent and manage NCDs,” elaborated Mr. Mbiydzenyuy.
The NCD-PCP Manager revealed that that the CBC Health Services will represent Civil Society Organisations in Cameroon during the 3rd UN High Level Meeting as the voice against NCDs in Cameroon and the world at large.
Prior to the September 13 launching of the Physical Exercise Program, CBC Health Services’ staff had intentionally been having physical exercise every Friday as way of fighting against NCDs and improving productivity at the work place.