COMMUNITY health workers have been called to serve as a backbone for the promotion and prevention services of non-communicable diseases and injuries as their treatment is expensive.
Non-communicable diseases (NDCs) are diseases that are not spread through infection or through other people but are typically caused by unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and alcohol abuse.
Speaking at the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) pre-budget meeting held in Harare yesterday, Dr Prosper Chitambara said that as the country’s health infrastructure is inadequate and a depleted health workforce, community health workers serve as the backbone of the health system as they actively engage with local communities, raising awareness about healthy lifestyles and providing essential prevention care.
“As treatment of NCDs is very expensive, prevention programmes should be the way forward to keep citizens healthy and productive.
“Early diagnosis and management of NDCs as well as limiting exposure to some major risk factors have proven effective in tackling them.
“We need to focus on lowering the risk factors linked to NDCs and these include cigarette use, hazardous alcohol consumption, poor diets and lack of physical activity.
“The Government can use various strategies to minimise NDCs for instance enactment and enforcement of tobacco, alcohol to discourage harmful alcohol and tobacco use.
“They can use mass and social media campaigns to educate the population about risk factors of these diseases.
“There is also a need for the mobilisation of resources to ensure that high-risk individuals access routine cancer screening and receive vaccination to reduce their chances of having cancers,” said Chitambara.