Posted by: africanpressorganization | 11 July 2011

First East African diabetes summit opens in Kampala / President Museveni urges for harmonized treatment guidelines for the disease


First East African diabetes summit opens in Kampala / President Museveni urges for harmonized treatment guidelines for the disease


KAMPALA, Uganda, July 11, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda, today officially opened the first-ever East African Community Diabetes Summit that is taking place from 11 to 14 July 2011 at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda.


In a speech read by the Vice President, Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi, President Museveni urged for harmonized policies, standards and treatment guidelines so that people travelling within the region will enjoy standard treatment for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.


He urged for the collaboration of the public and private sectors and ministries such as for Trade, Customs, Agriculture, Education, Culture and Sports in the process of developing policies and strategies to combat diabetes in the region.


He noted the insufficient awareness strategies on how to prevent and manage diabetes and that some people were still seeking traditional medication to cure the disease.


At the same occasion, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera noted that diabetes and other non-communicable diseases remain misunderstood and neglected epidemic with increasingly alarming numbers in every region of the world, including East Africa.


He said non-communicable diseases were adversely impacting on the lives of millions of people since they cause and aggravate poverty and were clearly a human development issue that need to be addressed internationally, regionally and nationally.


Amb. Dr. Sezibera reiterated that the impact of indirect and direct costs of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to health care systems and business threatens to undermine fragile economies and choke the progress that has been made throughout the East African Community Partner States and Africa at large.


He disclosed that the UN General Assembly had noted that the EAC Partner States had made great strides in achieving only two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely; MDG 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and MDG 4 to reduce infant mortality respectively. He said these impressive gains were set to be lost if non-communicable diseases were not urgently addressed.


The Secretary General affirmed that despite the successes in combating various communicable diseases of public health importance, the increasing burden of diabetes and other neglected non-communicable diseases and disorders such as cancer and heart diseases were now posing a great threat to the general health and overall wellbeing of the people of East Africa.


In this context, Dr. Sezibera noted that non-communicable diseases and disorders were now becoming too important to be left to health experts and diabetes interest groups alone to deal with and that “we should now all participate in combating the problem as a public health emergency in our various capacities as individuals, families, households, local communities, investors, entrepreneurs, pharmaceutical manufacturers, researchers, industry, parliaments, national governments, development partners, civil society and various non-state actors, among others”.



The Secretary General indicated that to date no country had succeeded in turning around or reversing the diabetes epidemic among all the various age groups yet the allocation of resources for health remains skewed in favour of infectious diseases. He said there was need for a paradigm shift in investment.


“We need to look at prevention and care of diabetes and its debilitating complications. We need to look at the common risk factors for diabetes, critically examine the diets, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity and smoking. This can be done without reducing investment that is flowing into infectious diseases”.


The Secretary General disclosed that the EAC and the rest of the world were anxiously looking towards a successful United Nations’ Summit of Heads of State and Government on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, which is due to take place from 19 to 20 September 2011 in New York, USA.


He said the forthcoming United Nations Summit was the second of its kind to focus on a global disease issue, noting that the first UN Summit related to health was the HIV/AIDS meeting held in 2001 which led to the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) which has been of great help to East Africa and other developing countries despite the many challenges and constraints in its implementation.


Amb. Dr. Sezibera hoped that the second UN Summit would come up with similar international financing model and global strategy to address the four most prominent non-communicable diseases, namely; cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, among others.


“This would mean looking at systems of health care delivery and not silos at international, regional, national and sub-national levels through various policy and legislative reforms”, asserted the Secretary General.


The Secretary General urged Summit participants to come up with recommendations that would guide regional policy initiatives towards increasing investment in the health sector in the region in the fight against diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and related disorders.



The Summit is being attended by among others; Ministers; Members of Parliament; Ambassadors and High Commissioners; the President of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Prof. Jean Claude Mbanya; Chairperson of the Africa Region of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and Chair of the Organizing Committee of the 1st East Africa Diabetes Summit, Dr. Silver Bahendaeka; and Health and Diabetes Experts from the Partner States.



East African Community (EAC)


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