Are Namibians open to chronic disease screening?

MY HEALTH, MY PRIORITY … People showed up to the Ro- man Catholic Hospital on 12 June for the Namibia Medical Care Open Wellness Day in Windhoek to undergo several medical tests. Photo: Henry van Rooi

When was your last check-up?

Regular screenings for chronic diseases can be lifesaving, however, not everyone makes it a priority.

With the rise of health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, staying informed about your health status remains important.

The Namibia Medical Care (NMC) Open Wellness Day at the Roman Catholic Hospital welcomed the public of all ages, offering free health screenings.

The event saw a high turnout, with over 200 people in attendance.

This is according to NMC business development consultant Tashiya Nangula.

Nangula says people had their glucose, cholesterol, iron, blood pressure and uric acid levels tested at the open day.

Information sessions on HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) were also provided she says.

The open day took place on 12 June, with the second outreach taking place yesterday at Rhino Park Private Hospital in Windhoek.

Nangula says these open days aim to educate the public about their health and what to focus on, as well as informing them about when to visit the doctor.

“We hold these open days every month, with different companies giving feedback that people are eager in knowing,” she adds.

Some of the people who went for screenings shared the importance of prioritising one’s health.

Windhoek resident Turho Nghiimbwasha (32), who actively joined a gym about four years ago, says he is physically active and works out every day to keep fit.

“Your health is wealth, it’s important to know how healthy you are. Your body in linked to your productivity and daily performance,” he says.

Manuela de Koe (48), another Windhoek resident, says it is crucial to know where one stands in terms of health and that a healthy person is a happy person.

Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) registered nurse Aina Nghitongo says there has been a noticeable upward trend in turnout, including growing awareness of the National Cancer Outreach Programme (NCOP) benefits.

As a direct result of these outreach programmes, there have been numerous cases where early-stage cancers were detected, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

“The positive impact on early detection and high levels of participant turnout underscores the success of this programme,” she says.

The NCOP often sees good participation due to extensive community engagement and awareness campaigns, says Nghitongo.

Efforts to inform the public through local media and community leaders have over the years contributed to the successful turnout, she says.

Nghitongo says collaborations with local healthcare providers and community healthcare workers who encourage community members to attend these screenings, have also played a significant role in boosting participation.

The NCOP runs from January to October annually.

Last year, it reached out to 28 towns, where a total of 2 861 women and 662 men were screened for cervical, breast and prostate cancer.
So far this year, CAN held free screening and outreach campaigns in 10 towns, Nghitongo says.

The Namibian in July last year reported that 387 people were tested for hypertension in a week-long hypertension awareness campaign, revealing that 167 people lived with elevated blood pressure, while 117 of them were unaware of their condition.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition where the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.

This increased pressure forces the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels.

Last August, minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula announced that cases of high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes are overwhelming.

According to Moyo Clinic, glucose tests detects the blood sugar in your body.

A level less than 140 mg/dL (7,8 mmol/L) is normal. A reading of more than 200 mg/dL (11,1 mmol/L) might mean you have diabetes.

A high uric acid level can be linked to gout or kidney stones. However, most people with high uric acid levels do not have symptoms of either of these conditions or related problems.

A cholesterol test is a blood test that measures the amount of cholesterol and certain fats in your blood. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell of the body.

The iron level test can be used to find out how much iron the body stores.

If a ferritin test shows that the blood ferritin level is low, it means the body’s iron stores are low.

This is a condition called iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can cause anaemia.

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