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Health experts seek to scale up prevention
of cardiovascular diseases in Rwanda

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- A meeting on cardiovascular diseases opened Friday in Kigali with health experts looking to draw a joint prevention and treatment work plan to help in scaling up prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and non-communicable diseases in general.

Rwanda’s ministry of Health through Rwanda Biomedical Centre partnered with Team Heart and partner organizations to convene the meeting.

Themed “Management of cardiovascular diseases in Rwanda,” the workshop is expected to provide an avenue to discuss Rwanda’s agenda in controlling and preventing the cardiovascular epidemic, according to organizers.

The workshop drew national and international experts to discuss clinical and economic impacts of cardiovascular diseases, progress of care, assessment in Rwanda and sub-Saharan Africa, funding and the way forward.

At least 15 percent Rwandans have hypertension, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases among other Non-Communicable Diseases, according to Dr. Marie Aime Muhimpundu, the head of the Non Communicable Diseases Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

Speaking at the workshop, Muhimpundu said about 35 percent of people seeking treatment in Rwandan hospitals have problems related to Non Communicable Diseases while 25 percent are having cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading Non Communicable Diseases among Rwandans yet many people are ignorant about them, according to health workers.

Muhimpundu called for more awareness campaigns among citizens about the diseases.

“We want to increase the capacity of hospitals. We have reached far as training has been finished in district hospitals and now we are reaching out to the health centers,” she said.

The workshop called for mobilizing of communities and stakeholders, capacity building, expansion of research and scaling up of screening, diagnosis, specialized treatment and prevention initiatives.

Participants are also discussing proposals for advanced cardiovascular management, sharing information on current prevention and treatment initiatives in Rwanda and seek solutions to fill the gaps in line with policy, research and services.

Though Rwanda’s health care system has made great strides against Non Communicable Diseases, ministry reports show a lack of focus on cardiovascular diseases due to lack of funding, expertise and research data. 

For the past 10 years, Rwanda’s ministry of Health and Team Heart partnership has seen 150 patients receive open heart surgeries giving them a chance to live.

Globally, Non Communicable Diseases are blamed for high mortality posing a global health threat. Cardiovascular diseases alone cause death of 17.5 million people each year globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Rwanda’s Ministry of health has put measures to manage and control Non Communicable Diseases. These include free screening to people aged 35 and above and providing screening and health care services at all levels of healthcare providers countrywide.



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