More than 4,500 people have been screened by doctors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) since December 2016, as part of a pilot project to raise awareness and improve early detection of persons with higher risk of developing NCDs.
The “Walk-The-Talk” project hosted by the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), is part of a wider strategy to step up the battle against NCDs by providing testing, screening equipment, training and support for community groups.
The project which has engaged religious groups, seeks to empower community organizations to proactively seek out high risk persons so they can receive urgent medical attention. The NCRHA’s medical personnel provides training and the support needed to conduct ongoing testing and screening within communities as well as during community gatherings such as church services, sports, fairs and local events. More than 3,000 persons have already been immunized against the flu, and 20 community organizations will be presented with screening equipment as the NCRHA continues to work with communities to monitor and refer high risk patients to doctors.
“We realize that providing early primary medical care, can contribute significantly towards improving the quality of life for our patients, as well as reduce the need for more radical secondary or emergency care later on. This allows us to detect health problems long before they reach crisis levels for patients,” says CEO of the NCRHA, Davlin Thomas.
He said the project will leave equipment in the hands of community organizations which will be able to continuously monitor the health stats of their members, so they can identify and direct high risk persons to the attention of doctors long before they see the negative symptoms on their lifestyle.
“Combating non-communicable diseases is a mission that must engage all of us, and this is not only an issue for medical personnel,” he added. “Apart from improving the quality of life for those affected, early detection and screening also reduces the cost of medical care in the long run. He noted that the equipment, personnel and medication required to respond to critical illness bought on by NCDs is much higher than the lifestyle changes that individuals can take to mitigate serious symptoms and illness later on.
The “Walk-The-Talk” project will provide community institutions such as churches, mosques and temples with blood pressure monitors, blood sugar testers, BMI calculators and the training of community representatives so they are empowered to provide ongoing care and monitoring to members of their institution. The representatives have direct and frequent contacts with medical personnel from the NCRHA so they can fast-track care to high risk patients.
Because there are usually no symptoms at the onset of NCDs, the project seeks to expand access to early screening so more people will be are aware of their status and potential risk. With early detection, we can address symptoms and other indicators that put citizens at higher risk for deadly lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and hypertension.
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