Par­lia­ment needs to in­ter­vene in the fight against Non Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases

By: Winnie Watera

Tragedy struck again in Par­lia­ment with the death of MP Stan­ley Om­wonya rep­re­sent­ing Okora County in Zombo. The 65-year-old leg­is­la­tor suc­cumbed to a heart at­tack on 2nd No­vem­ber at 4.00am lo­cal time at the In­ter­na­tional Hos­pi­tal Kam­pala (IHK).[1] He was the 9th Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment to pass on in the 9th Par­lia­ment[2] and the tenure of Par­lia­ment is 5 years.

Dur­ing the spe­cial sit­ting on 4th of No­vem­ber to honor the fallen Mem­ber, it was men­tioned that most of them had suc­cumbed to Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­ease (NCD/​s). Given the facts that re­late to NCDs, it’s im­por­tant that we do not let the same fate be­fall a num­ber of Ugan­dans es­pe­cially those from low in­come house­holds.

NCDs refers to a group of con­di­tions that are not mainly caused by an acute in­fec­tion, re­sult in long-term health con­se­quences and of­ten cre­ate a need for long-term treat­ment and care. These con­di­tions in­clude can­cers, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, di­a­betes and chronic lung ill­nesses. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the world Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, NCDs are closely linked to poverty and threaten progress to­wards the United Na­tions Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals, now the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and post-2015 de­vel­op­ment agenda.

In ad­di­tion, the death caused by these dis­eases is pre­dicted to rise by 17% over the next 10 years and over­take death caused by com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases like Malaria and HIV/​AIDS. The rapid rise in NCDs is also pre­dicted to im­pede poverty re­duc­tion ini­tia­tives in low-in­come coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly by in­creas­ing house­hold costs as­so­ci­ated with health care. Vul­ner­a­ble and so­cially dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple get sicker and die sooner than peo­ple of higher so­cial po­si­tions, es­pe­cially be­cause they are at greater risk of be­ing ex­posed to harm­ful prod­ucts, such as to­bacco or un­healthy food, and have lim­ited ac­cess to health ser­vices.

It is also said ex­ter­nal fund­ing will be more in­clined to­wards fund­ing the pre­ven­tion NCDs in the post 2015, how­ever, as a coun­try we should not rely on this be­cause re­search by the world health or­ga­ni­za­tion has shown that donor fund­ing in most cases does not align closely with the dis­ease bur­den. The gap be­tween donor fund­ing of NCDs and the ac­tual dis­ease bur­den world­wide is the largest un­like the fund­ing for HIV/​AIDS and ma­ter­nal, new­born and child health. NCDs con­sti­tute 50% of the to­tal dis­ease bur­den world­wide but in 2011 only re­ceived over 1% of the fund­ing[3].

Par­lia­ment can do a lot for the war against NCDs, it can ap­pro­pri­ate money to bat­tle the con­di­tions, and how­ever fund­ing alone is not enough.  Par­lia­ment needs to per­form its tri­par­tite man­date of: rep­re­sen­ta­tion, leg­is­la­tion and over­sight if Uganda de­sires to bat­tle the con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with NCDs. NCDS should be put as strate­gic pri­or­i­ties in Health Sec­tor plans by pro­vid­ing the in­fra­struc­ture and hu­man re­sources to ready health de­liv­ery plat­forms for NCD pre­ven­tion and con­trol. This could be through de­ci­sions to in­crease the health sec­tor bud­get, mon­i­tor­ing pro­grammes di­rected to­wards the fight against NCDs. The health sec­tors hold­ing stake­hold­ers ac­count­able for monies dis­bursed to fund pro­grammes.

At the end of the day we should Par­lia­ment should re­alise there is a prob­lem that needs so­lu­tions and fast be­fore we lose more Ugan­dan’s to NCDs

[1] http://​www.elec­​new-vi­sion/​elec­tion/​1407508/​stan­ley-om­wonya-okora-county-mp-dies-aged-65

[2] Hon­or­able Aronda Nyakair­ima, Hon­or­able Gre­gory Ma­tovu, Hon­or­able Ce­rina Nebanda, Hon­or­able Stephen Ma­linga, Hon­or­able Michael Oro­mait, Hon­or­able Joy Ari­naitwe, Hon­or­able James Mu­tende, Hon­o­rale Eriya Kate­gaya and Hon­or­able Stan­ley Om­wonya

[3] World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion