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Government to train district health workers on diabetes and cancer

The Ministry of Health has launched a project to address the skills gap of health workers in detecting, treating and reducing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer .

The three-year project titled Essential Non-Communicable Disease Intervention Package Plus (PEN-plus) will target health workers at lower health facilities to improve the quality of services for severe chronic NCDs in communities.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Health, Uganda Initiative for Integrated Management of Non-Communicable Diseases (UINCD) with funding from the Uganda Network on Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries (NCDI) Against Poverty.

Speaking at the launch in Kampala yesterday, Dr Charles Oyoo Akiya, Commissioner for NCDs at the Ministry of Health, called for increased funding and collective action to tackle the diseases.

“The fight against NCDs requires collective responsibility due to the very nature of the contributing factors. We have to tackle diseases within our respective capacities, it is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Dr. Ann Akiteng, deputy director of UINCD, said they will start with a pilot project in health facilities in Kumi and Nakaseke districts before rolling it out nationwide.

“This PEN-plus project will address NCDs, in particular type 1 diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, asthma and sickle cell disease. We plan to strengthen the capacity to detect and manage these conditions at the general hospital level so that these patients do not need to be referred to distant facilities like Mulago,” she said.

According to a report presented yesterday by the UICD, the burden of non-communicable diseases and injuries has doubled over the past two decades, now contributing to 41% of deaths in the country.

Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, director of public health services at the ministry, in his speech read by Dr. Oyoo, called for adopting a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

“These non-communicable diseases are major contributors to non-communicable disease health care costs and out-of-pocket costs due to the chronic nature of the diseases. They also lead to premature deaths, worsen the situation of poverty and stretch the health system,” he said.

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