In most communities in Africa, it is believed that when someone dies before the age of 50, that person was certainly bewitched. Annah Baye a 50-year-old widow in Cameroon believed that her family had been cursed by untimely death on her relatives. Her sixteen siblings had died suddenly after complaining of simple headaches, dizziness, and nerves. Over the years, Baye had grieved over the death of her loved ones, while living the same lifestyle as them.
To curb this myth related to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Cameroon, the CBC Health Services embarked on a community outreach program through general education. Teams were sent to Churches, Schools, and Markets to carry out health education on NCDs. It was during one of such outings at Main Market in Tiko that Baye learned about NCDs for the first time.
“I heard a lady shouting on a megaphone, cautioning us on the dangers of the silent killers. How a healthy person could just die abruptly because of a silent killer disease,” remembers Baye.
Baye’s curiosity had pulled her closer to the Service Provider who took time to explain to her the different types of silent killers such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancers, Chronic Respiratory Diseases among others. After explaining the symptoms, Baye could link some to her siblings which motivated her to want to know her numbers.
After being screened, her blood pressure was high, 179/106c. She realized that she was not only exposed to NCD but was already living with one of them. Baye was immediately referred to the health Center for proper follow-up. “I was advised not to abuse alcohol, eat less salt and oil; eat a lot of fruits and remain physically active. For about a year now, I have changed my lifestyle and I am feeling better. This change has made me start to believe that, we were not bewitched as I thought but our poor lifestyle took us to our early graves,” concluded the happy Baye.
As a wounded healer, Baye advises everyone to know their numbers to bar the road to the silent disease. “You may think you are healthy, but you may be close to your grave. Take a few minutes today and know your numbers to bar the road of the silent disease from attacking you,” advised the happy Baye.
Anna expressed her joy with the introduction of the “Know Your Numbers” campaigns which she believes have helped many “. … I am very glad for the timely intervention of the Know Your Numbers team. If they didn’t reach out to my community as early as they did, the same story I am telling about my 16 aunts would have been told about me by someone else now,” she explained. She encourages people to go in for testing and know their numbers.
By Nadege Ngeh/ Rene Lamnyam/Fri Delphine