Uganda Heart Institute, a center of excellence providing comprehensive medical services to patients with cardiovascular diseases in Uganda together with Prudential Uganda launched the “Omutima Gwo” campaign which aims at creating more awareness on heart health with a focus on prevention, detection, treatment, and reversal of heart related diseases.
The “Omutima Gwo” campaign launched last week (Nov. 2) is in partnership with the Ministry of Health, International Medical Centre, Radio One, Akaboozi, Capital FM, Next Media Services and Dr. Kasenene Wellness. And the campaign was presided over by Dr Gerald Mutungi, the Commissioner Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at the launch that was held at Uganda Heart Institute in Mulago, Dr. Omagino O.O John, the Executive Director at UHI shared that “The body was designed to live upto 100 years but unfortunately people die premature deaths,”
“People do not want to exercise. Gone are the days when we used to walk to see our friends, exercise at school. These acts must come back”
He continued, “Besides the ones born with it, the other causes of heart disease are preventable. Together with our partners, we can prevent the heart disease by bridging the knowledge gaps.”
“Heart disease is brutal, it affects the whole life cycle. One percent of babies born in any country has a heart disease. Whether you are an adult or young the heart disease affects you.” Dr. Omagino said.
The Regional CEO, Prudential East & Central Africa Mr. Arjun Mallik explained that health is a key component of our daily lives and as such, a healthy people are a prerequisite for a productive and prosperous economy.
“As a business, wellness is at the core of our agenda and we take the health of our staff, customers and the general public seriously. As we may be aware, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer in Uganda and across the world. With this campaign, we focus on heart health because it is a pertinent issue,” said Arjun before adding that the public needs to be equipped with the information they need on prevention, detection, treatment, and reversal of heart related diseases.
Currently in Uganda, every 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure. It is also estimated that about 1.6 million babies born in the country every year, 1% (16,000 babies) suffer from congenital heart disease. Half of this number (8,000) is severe enough to warrant intervention.
Arjun continued, “It is numbers such as these that show the magnitude of the need out there and made us take the decision to support our communities every year, with information and services to support their heart health.”
Ever since “Omutima Gwo” campaign was first launched in 2018, with two heart camps held in 2018 and 2019, more than 5000 Ugandans have so far received free heart health checks and over 12 million Ugandans have also received heart health messages through the media outreach.
Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Commissioner Non -Communicable Diseases at MOH who was in attendance on the behalf of ministry said, “We are proud of the work that Prudential is doing looking and the strides that they’ve made over the last couple of years in fighting a condition that continues to affect many people, expensive to treat and in many cases is not easily detectable without appropriate equipment.”
Mutungi added, “there is a need for more partners and individuals to come on board and support a noble cause of this nature, magnitude and importance.”
Echoing the same sentiments, Owek. Apollo Makubuya, the Board Chairman, Prudential Uganda said, “With the continued support from our partners, we are able to help the public access these services at no cost to them. We thank our partners for working with us and helping the public access these services”.
In a bid to prevent the spread of corona virus among the population, a heart camp will not be held this year. Instead, IMC will provide free heart health assessments and check-ups including Body Mass Index (BMI), Electrocardiography (ECG) and Echocardiography (ECO) for free to the public but only to be accessed on appointment.
As part of the campaign, partner media houses are to run a public health campaign that will create awareness on heart and will also include the running of heart health tips and a couple of media interviews with renowned medical experts who will speak into heart health with focus on prevention, detection, treatment, and reversal of heart related diseases.
Uganda is still endemic for Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), the most common cause of preventable acquired disease in children and young adults.
It is estimated that 300,000 school children in Uganda have Rheumatic Heart Disease.
This data reflects an urgent need for countries to establish cost-effective public health programs aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk through modifiable behaviours.