ADDRESSING NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES IN UGANDAN CITIES

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a growing health concern in Uganda, particularly in urban areas. To address this challenge, AMICALL is implementing a program that leverages mayors’ commitment in addressing NCDs and prevention strategies.

The program focuses on four key elements:

  • Building capacity: AMICAALL strengthens the capacity of city mayors in NCD programming, advocacy, and integration into local government plans.
  • Walk-in screening centers: established in Mbale and Jinja cities, these centers provide accessible health checks for residents. The city mayors spearheaded the selection and allocation of space for the walk-in center in the city’s main markets. These selected spaces are easily accessible and cater for the busy city dwellers and vendors who spend most of their time at work and have no time to go to the permanent health units.
  • Community engagement: mayors champion awareness campaigns and encourage healthy lifestyles through initiatives like designated exercise days for city staff.
  • Advocacy for change: leaders advocate for affordable NCD medications and regulations to limit unhealthy food and beverage marketing.

Deputy Mayor of Mbale, HW Kakai takes her height measurement assisted by the city Health Officer and community volunteers. Credit: Mbale Municipality

Deputy Mayor of Jinja, HW Fazira Kawuma (with a veil) waits to be screened for NCDs by a volunteer in one of the market screening centers in Jinja. She represents people with disabilities. Credit: Jinja Municipality

Community volunteers advocate for good health by conducting one-on-one and group health education sessions for walk-in citizens. Emphasis is placed on behavior change information, which is shared and reiterated during post-test consultations.

Early results of the initiative count more than 365 individuals, including people with disabilities, who attended the walk-in screening centers within the first month (March 2024) of operation.

In the longer term, the program leaders aim to enhance treatment adherence, elevate household livelihoods, and minimize mortality rates within the population through reducing prices of NCD medications and commodities.

Program impact:

  • Increased awareness of NCD risk factors and prevention strategies
  • Improved access to NCD screening for city residents
  • Integration of NCD prevention into city planning and policies

The program interventions support the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages, aligning particularly with target 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by a third by 2030 through prevention and treatment. This also aligns with indicator 3.4.1 which tracks the mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases.

Under the UN Health for Life Fund, Uganda is one of the countries mandated to scale up multisector action on NCDs and mental health through whole-of-government, parliament, and whole-of-society responses, thereby promoting healthier communities.