SIR â€” We have read with surprise the letter by Dr. Willy Kisitu of Wroclaw Medical University, in the New Vision of September 1. Kisitu claims that heart diseases have not increased.
We thank him for highlighting the problem of heart diseases. However, we would like to correct some inaccuracies about the incidence of heart diseases in particular and cardiovascular diseases in general.
Kisituâ€™s assertion is a bit misleading because his conclusion that the prevalence of heart diseases has not increased is based on only one group of cardiovascular disorders called congenital heart diseases (heart conditions that people have from birth).
However, cardiovascular diseases and indeed other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus and cancers are on a rapid increase in Uganda and Africa.
Hypertension, stroke, cardiomyopathies, coronary heart disease and rheumatic heart disease are the most important cardiovascular diseases in our environment. According to the world health report of 2001, the proportion of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases in the Africa Region rose from 8.2 % in 1990 to 9.2 % in 2000.
Some of the major reasons for the increase in cardiovascular diseases are the rise in the preventable behavioural and physiological risk factors that are responsible for approximately 75 % of cardiovascular diseases.
Industrialisation, urbanisation and mechanised transport have caused changes in our populationsâ€™ lifestyles leading to physical inactivity.
Furthermore, unhealthy diets which are high in calories, salt, and sugar and fat but low in fruits and vegetables accelerate the development of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking of tobacco and obesity contribute substantially to the increase in cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, in some areas there is an increase in the population of aged people.
Indeed, if nothing is done presently, Uganda will face a double epidemic of communicable and non-communicable diseases in just a few years to come.
To avert this dangerous trend therefore, there is need to increase public awareness about non- communicable diseases and their risk factors and to promote health education about healthy lifestyles especially physical activity and healthy diet.
The Ministry of Health will soon conduct its first National non- communicable diseases risk factor survey to assess the prevalence of non-communicable disease risk factors and to investigate the determinants of non-communicable diseases in the communities.
Furthermore, the ministry plans to evaluate the capacity of our health care facilities and health workers to effectively deal with the current and the anticipated increase in the non-communicable disease threat to our population.
The public is advised to routinely do physical activities such as a morning jog and to reduce the intake of alcohol and tobacco.
Dr. James Sekajugo
Dr. Ambrose Talisuna
Ministry of Health
There are different heart diseases