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Rwanda To Host National NCD Conference with Funding Topping Agenda

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Sport to combat NCDs

Rwanda will this month host the first ever high level national conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in which the government and its partners will discuss how to further promote sectoral participation and alternative financing of Universal Health Care (UHC) for NCDs.

In Rwanda, there are four main types of non-communicable diseases which include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.

The hybrid conference, the first of its kind ever, organized by Rwanda Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCDA) and Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) will take place November 25-26, 2021 under the theme “Multi-sectoral Collaboration for NCDs and UHC”.

This theme has been inspired by the findings from the National NCDs situation analysis conducted by Rwanda NCD Alliance in collaboration with RBC which witnessed the level of involvement of stakeholders in the NCDs response.

The theme takes into account the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 emphasizing on the country’s efforts to prevent and treat NCDs for the reduction of premature mortality by one-third by 2030.

The event organizers said this will be an opportunity to facilitate advocacy efforts in making sure that no one is left behind as far as the NCDs response is concerned, it will also be a great step towards the implementation of the National Strategy and Costed Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Rwanda, 2020-2025 recently launched.

“Furthermore, the conference will contribute to increasing comprehensive and multisectoral commitments for NCDs, harnessing meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs in addressing their health challenges, and louder their voices,” a statement read in part.

The conference will also engage youth and harness meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs to voice concerns in addressing their health challenges and discuss strategies related to health financing specifically on ways to increase budget allocation to NCDs and its alternative financing.

NCDs Burden At Hand:

Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije while giving a picture of the state of NCDs in Rwanda, in 2020 said NCDs have become a huge burden for the country, killing more people than any other cause of death, calling for more funding and strategies to combat them.

In 2019 alone, Rwanda had 34,000 new NCDs cases enrolled for care and DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) associated with NCDs rose from 16% in 1990 to 35% in 2016, indicating significant productivity loss for our population in Rwanda.

Ministry of Health, 15.9 percent of adults in Rwanda are living with hypertension while 40 percent of adults present for the first time with heart failure class III to IV.

The number of cardiovascular patients treated in the country’s health facilities has more than tripled between 2018 and 2020, from 25,353 to 88,486 cases.

The minister said that the different strategies the government is deploying to combat them and the future impact of non-communicable diseases on health financing

Some of the initiatives and activities like Car Free Day have been initiated in Kigali and through major secondary cities as physical exercising events to enable the community battle with NCDs but also undergo free checkups.

However, the New Coronavirus outbreak in 2020 has further highlighted the NCDs burden on Rwanda as underlying conditions contributed in fragilizing people with COVID-19 with 90 percent of the deaths had NCD Co-morbidity detected, meaning that majority of the people who died had underlying conditions related to NCDs.

Funding Needs Agenda:

In order to address this burden, Rwanda is looking at using the new NCD strategic plan (National Strategy and Costed Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs) 2020-2025; which was launched this September.

The plan is currently mobilising resources, including domestically, and funding the different initiatives.

It outlines how Rwf 358.15 billion will be needed for the next five years in order to improve prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment and strengthen advocacy initiatives, train health workers and raise general awareness.

Of this budget, Rwf136.22 billion will go to cardiovascular and diabetes treatment, Rwf 106.71 billion to cancers, Rwf57.17billion to respiratory diseases and Rwf11.09billion to injuries.

The conference is expected to discuss sources of this financing. However RBC Director General, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana says there is hope to deliver this plan so as to conduct cardiovascular and diabetes screening for 4.2million citizens by 2025- an increase from 0.74million in 2020.