The World Health Organisation and World Heart Federation selected September 29 each year, for the celebration of the World Heart Day.
Uganda, through the Uganda Heart Institute today joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Heart Day and the noble cause it stands for.
“This is meant to bring together all stakeholders to awaken to this monster of heart disease which is widely responsible for at least 17 million premature death and this is on the rise,” said Dr John O. Omagino, Executive Director of Uganda Heart Institute.
“By 2030, we shall already be losing 23 million people per year to cardiovascular disease,” he added.
He noted that in Uganda, hypertension is the leading cause of death and is estimated to half a million deaths per year, attributing this to bad eating habits and poor life styles.
“In Uganda, the latest surveys that have been made indicate that 1 in every 4 adult Ugandans, both in the rural and urban settings, already has hypertension and high blood pressure,” he said.
However, Dr Omagino said that 85% of the heart disease, especially hypertension is preventable. He recommended availing space for exercises in most places.
“Prevention is by lifestyle; through proper eating and physical exercising. Children need to exercise from home as there should be an exercise room. They should also attend to Physical Education right from the lower classes. There should be space for exercise at work places too,” he stressed.
The expert said that people who don’t exercise are at a high risk of getting heart disease, stroke and kidney failure or even death.
“Eat normal food prepared the way your grand parents would do; boiling it,” he recommended.
Dr. James Magara, Board Chairman, UHI said that people should avoid tobacco smoking, as it damages the heart.
Challenges faced by the Uganda Heart Institute
Being the only heart institute in Uganda, there is overcrowding and only 5% of heart disease cases are referred abroad.
Although it has some autonomy, the institute is still under Mulago Hospital. However, Dr Omagino said that the issue of spacing will be solved by establishing a standalone facility.
The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng said that the Ministry is working closely with the Uganda Heart Institute in partnership with Prudential Uganda and other stakeholders to drive the cause of a healthy heart through the role of policy guidance which entails promotion of healthy living, prevention of Non Communicable Disease (NCDs) especially cardiovascular disease, early diagnosis and interventions.
“I am calling upon the entire public to make better choices by eating well and limiting alcohol use, saying no to tobacco, getting plenty of exercise and abiding by the government’s standard operating procedures on COVID-19,” said Aceng.