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Govt makes efforts to deal with rising health issue


With non-communicable diseases on the rise in Myanmar, the Ministry of Health and Sports is working to train more health care personnel to address the issue.

A senior official says the ministry is on track to complete training of personnel in the World Health Organization’s Package of Essential Non-communicable Disease Interventions in 95 townships in Myanmar by this December.

Examples of non-communicable disease (NCD) include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer.

The overall project to strengthen public health capacity in the country hopes to build evidence-based health policies and improve the handling of NCDs at the primary health care level in 330 townships in Myanmar.

“We will provide the training to health staff in 95 townships and implement pilot NCD health care initiatives at the community level that can be scaled up. We expect they will finish by the end of this year,” Dr. U Ko Ko, head of the project and of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Medicine 2 in Yangon, said.

Health care personnel who receive the training this year live in 19 townships in Mandalay, 27 in Sagaing, 14 in Magwe, 14 in Ayeyarwady, and 21 townships in Bago.

The Strengthening Public Health Capacity to Respond to Myanmar’s Disease Transition Project began in February 2015 and will continue until January 2020. The project is being jointly implemented by senior-wellbeing NGO HelpAge International Myanmar, the University of Public Health, University of Medicine 2 in Yangon, and Thailand’s Thammasat University.

The project is supported by the European Union, World Diabetes Foundation and HelpAge International Myanmar. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the University of Public Health and other health stakeholders to support evidence-based policy and improve health services, particularly in preparation for the rising incidence of non-communicable disease in Myanmar.

The core components of the programme are research, policy and capacity building, and communications. There are over 800 health workers across Myanmar trained in how to address the rising threat of NCDs.

“More and more people are dying of non-communicable diseases. This project is working to overcome this challenge,” Godfred Paul, country director of HelpAge International Myanmar, told a workshop on the issue last Friday.

HelpAge International is a global network of organisations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives.

According to data from the WHO, deaths from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes have been steadily rising.

WHO’s data shows 40 percent of all deaths in 2010 in Myanmar were due to NCDs. This rose to 59pc in 2014, and 68pc in 2016.

The major risk factors behind the unprecedented rise in the prevalence of NCDs are abuse of alcohol and tobacco, insufficient physical activity, and unhealthy diets, which are aggravated by factors such as globalisation, unplanned urbanisation, marketing of unhealthy foods, and the rise of sedentary lifestyles.

“In the past, it was assumed that NCDs only affected older people, but that is not true. Over the past decades, more of the younger generations are also affected by NCDs,” Dr. U Zaw Than Tun, director general of the Department of Medical Research, said.

The results of the 2014 Myanmar STEPS survey on Diabetes Mellitus and Non-Communicable Diseases risk factors show that 94pc of adults in the country are living with at least one high-risk factor for NCDs.

Source: Myanmar Times

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