Johannesburg — First Lady Bongi Ngema Zuma has called on South Africans to take a holistic approach in dealing with non communicable diseases (NCD).
“We are facing a serious health challenge and we need revolution on health awareness in general. Creating awareness is critical as an effective tool for prevention and managing NCDs,” said Ngema Zuma.
Addressing the Non Communicable Diseases Summit held on Tuesday at the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, the First Lady, who is also the Founder and Patron of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation, stressed the need for cooperation by all stakeholders, including the private sector, government and civil society.
She encouraged direct interaction with communities through education on NCDs, which will prove to be significant.
“Strengthening partnerships will lead to a decrease in the morbidity and mortality rate. We [Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation] have taken a challenge to spread the word to communities, especially in rural areas because education is critical for sustainable growth of our society.”
“We are reaching out to schools and churches, especially in black communities where there is little information. We do screening for NCDs, including cholesterol, diabetes and weight and do referrals where needed,” said Ngema-Zuma.
The summit, hosted by the Gauteng Health and Social Development Department, aims to develop a plan of action to control and manage NCDs in the province, which account for 60 percent of all deaths globally.
NCDs also include diabetes, hypertension, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.
Head of Department for Gauteng Health and Social Development, Dr Kamy Chetty, said stakeholders needed to be hands on.
“The idea of the summit is to say, how can we be able to be innovative and give all the attention we can? Through active health promotion, we will be able to have an impact. Let’s make a difference for our children and ourselves…let’s do the same as Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi [who participates in walks to promote healthy lifestyles], who lives by example.” Chetty said.
Chetty also noted that while NCDs mostly focus on diabetes and cancer, the focus should also be on mental health problems and substance abuse, which have a major impact on mental health.
“We need to look at adequate budget for all programmes, “ Chetty said, adding that the department has allocated an 18 percent increase funding for Primary Health Care.
The department will also be embarking on a door to door campaign, where community health workers will be visiting families to find out their health problemsDiabetes nurse educator from Diabetes South Africa, Sister Razana Allie, emphasized the need for having diabetes nurses stationed on a full time basis at healthcare centres, who will teach patients how to manage their medication.
“It is not only about eating correct meals, but how to manage their medication. Currently, people who are diabetic approach us and ask about disability grants…being diabetic is not a disability and they don’t need any grants but [need to] manage their medication correctly,” said Allie