Government prioritises NCDs

THE government is prioritising the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including ear, nose and throat (ENT), as they are a major cause of death, complications and disability among the populace, a senior official has said.

Provincial medical director (PMD) for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Maphious Siamuchembu said this during a belated World Hearing Day commemorations held at Mpilo Hospital at the weekend. World Hearing Day is held on March 3 each year, to raise awareness on ways of preventing deafness and hearing loss as well as promoting ear and hearing care across the world.

This year’s commemorations were held in the Matabeleland region for the first time and ran under the theme “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality”.

Siamuchembu said ENT was a serious public health concern due to its contribution to disability in a large population of the deaf community. If there is inattention to ear and hearing care in terms of prevention and control programmes, this impacts negatively on the social and economic development of the country.”

He said ENT was not a responsibility of the ministry of Health and Child Care alone, but required a multifaceted approach involving other government ministries, the private sector and the civil society. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 466 million people worldwide have some form of disabling hearing loss and the number is set to double in 2030 if no action is taken.

It was against this background that the government was prioritising ENT services with development partners such as the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Education Fund, the Christian Blind Mission and WIZEAR, as well as quasi government arms such as the National Aids Council, said Siamuchembu.

“As government, we pride ourselves that in the midst of challenges facing our communities, the government is attempting to tackle ENT issues through inter-ministerial coordination and integration of programmes. “This critical and cost effective approach is the way to go when implementing ENT programmes.”

Siamuchembu said the government had developed a National Ear and Hearing Strategy (2018-2020) which was being reviewed to align it with the current National Health Strategy (2020-2025). He said the government had also trained 306 health personnel, including doctors, nurses, and rehabilitation technicians in the country on ENT. — New Ziana

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