Zim Working Population Rarely Get BP, Sugar Checkups

ABOUT 15 percent of Zimbabwe’s working population aged between 25 and 49 years get their Blood Pressure (BP) and blood sugar checked regularly.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Attributed to poor dietary lifestyles, the turbulent economic environment and lack of information, the age group according to Chief Medical Officer at Rapha Healthcare Systems Dr Cletos Masiya is the hardest hit by non-communicable diseases which are becoming a big threat to their health.

If you noticed that among the hardest hit 25-49 year olds. They rarely get themselves checked.  If we were to do a survey, only 15 percent of people in that category have had their BP checked randomly without getting sick. In fact probably a much lesser percentage would just go and get their BP checked.

“This is because of lack of communication, appreciation of the risks involved and in our case when people go to see the clinics or doctors when they sick. But we are saying you shouldn’t wait until you are sick for you to go and get your BP checked.

“It doesn’t cost much to do that as you can walk into a pharmacy and we are actually encouraging a situation we have one blood pressure monitor and one sugar monitor per household. Imagine how much information you can gather, you can see the trend against normal readings.

“They can visit the doctor once they see are not doing very well and they can change their lifestyle. Simple things like salt management, weight management can reduce these risks,” he told this publication on the sidelines of Ecobank Day in Budiriro 5 on Saturday.

Dr Masiya added that the serious attention needed to address NCDs was seen at the 2017 World Economic Forum where business and political leaders highlighted the scourge of non-communicable diseases which include sugar, high blood pressure,heart disease, kidney disease, cancers as the biggest threat to health of people of that age, the biggest threat to the working force.

“The economic challenges that we face could also be hinged on those. They are also the biggest contributors to the increasing healthcare costs yet these are preventable and manageable diseases through lifestyle,” he said.

He also said one of the biggest lifestyle changes that can affect NCDs is dietary nutrition. Its the biggest entry point to good health.

“As we have seen in the changing economic and demographic trends people are no longer eating healthy. They are now eating highly processed foods, cooked very fast in difficult conditions and that affects the quality of what we eat and the choice of what we eat. People are no longer walking, exercising and moving in various ways and this has affected the quality of cardiovascular profiles resulting in increased risks for diabetics, increased risks for kidney diseases.”

He noted how the  2017 World Economic Forum highlighted the scourge of non-communicable diseases which include sugar, high blood pressure,heart disease, kidney disease,” cancers as the biggest threat to health of people of that age, the biggest threat to the working force.

“The economic challenges that we face could also be hinged on those. They are also the biggest contributors to the increasing healthcare costs yet these are preventable and manageable diseases through lifestyle,” he said.

He added that one of the biggest lifestyle changes that can affect NCDs is dietary nutrition. Its the biggest entry point to good health. As we have seen in the changing economic and demographic trends people are no longer eating healthy.

“They are now eating highly processed foods, cooked very fast in difficult conditions and that affects the quality of what we eat and the choice of what we eat. People are no longer walking, exercising and moving in various ways and this has affected the quality of cardiovascular profiles resulting in increased risks for diabetics, increased risks for kidney diseases.”

He said as far as healthcare costs are concerned, NCDs deserved as much awareness raising, and funding as communicable diseases like HIV and cholera.

“You will find the cancers we deal with in Zimbabwe, or even in Africa or across the world amongst women its cervical cancer which account for over 60 percent of cancer cases. Then there is breast cancer also for women. For men we have prostate cancers.

“These are some of the big scores. As you know October is the Pink Month where we push and commemorate Breast Cancer. But June is usually the month where we push commemorations for prostate cancer,” Dr Masiya said.

Dr Masiya stated that men generally have poor health seeking behaviors.

“But you know the health seeking behaviour of men quite poor compared to that of women. And then we have poor uptake of services among men. NCDs are very simple diseases easy to screen. As you noticed, Ecobank just donated simple instruments such as blood pressure monitors, BP, Sugar monitors, scales. These are the things we use to come up with risk profiles so that we can do interventions at preventive level.  But at treatment level its muchC more complicated and more expensive,” he said.

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