600 doctors to be trained over a period of four years.
This training is part of the series of trainings for medical practitioners in the field of Neurology and Oncology. It is organized under the EADB Medical Training and Fellowship programme and being conducted by the Royal College of Physicians UK, in partnership with the British Council.
In August 2016, the East African Development Bank launched the EADB Medical Training and Fellowship programme with an aim of development and improving capacity in neurology and oncology in the East African Region.
The EADB Medical Training and Fellowship Programme will aim at increasing the number, quality and deployment of medical professionals in public service so as to cushion the burden of NCDs. Over a four-year period, the program aims to have trained 600 medical professionals specializing in cancer treatment in the East African region.
The fellowship will focus on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders especially in communities and areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.
The first session of the clinical training on neurology under the programme took place in Nairobi, Kenya last week with participants from Kenya and Tanzania. This week’s training is for participants from Uganda and Rwanda here at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya in Kampala where 15 medical practitioners are being trained for five days in the treatment of cancer and neurological disorders. The course objective is to upgrade the ability of the target group of physicians to be able to better manage their patients with common neurological disorders.
The fellowship programme will focus on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders especially in communities and areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.
Speaking during the start of the clinical training on neurology at St. Francis Hospital, Nsambya in Kampala, Ms. Yeda said “the East Africa Community has for a long time failed to prevent and treat the cancer scourge because of lack of trained and skilled doctors. The ratio of doctor to population in the region is far below the UN standards. Through the East Africa Development Bank Medical Training and Fellowship Programme, we hope over the long term to equip doctors in district hospitals across East Africa with the skills to effectively and promptly diagnose cancer and neurological disorders and facilitate early interventions either at the point of contact or by referral for advanced medical care.”
She added that the programme was an additional investment in the growing list of interventions by the bank to boost skill and capacity to key sectors of the East African economy. The Bank currently supports a scholarship programme for teachers in the US as well as capacity building programme for East African public sector lawyers in the extractive industries.
Neurological disorders account for 5% of deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa and approximately 14% of all disability cases. This is indeed a significant portion of our population. We also note that inadequate numbers of neurologists and general physicians who are adequately trained has contributed to this situation in the region.
Non Communicable Diseases, also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors are an emerging problem in East Africa. In Uganda, it is reported that cancer kills almost 21,000 people every year.
Some of the fields that the doctors will be trained in will include; headaches, brain tumors, movement disorders, nerve and muscle diseases, brain infections, Epilepsy, Strokes, Spinal cord pathology and Dementia.
These diseases are driven by forces that include ageing, rapid unplanned urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. For example, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles like unhealthy diets may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, elevated blood lipids, and obesity. These are called ‘intermediate risk factors’ which can lead to cardiovascular disease, a NCD.
All age groups and regions are affected by NCDs. Very often, these illnesses are associated with older age groups, but evidence shows that 16 million of all deaths attributed to NCDs occur before the age of 70. Of these ‘premature’ deaths, 82% occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
Children, adults and the elderly alike are all vulnerable to the risk factors that contribute to Non-communicable diseases, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the effects of the harmful use of alcohol.