Heart disease tops HIV deaths in East Africa


East Africa is experiencing a rapid rise in cardiovascular disease, which is a major cause of deaths among HIV patients in the region.

Health experts at the fifth annual East African Health and Scientific Conference in Kampala warned that cases of cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease are on the rise in the region.

The four diseases classified as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for 60% (35 million) of all global deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Prof. Gerald Yonga, the Director of the NCD Research Policy Unit at Aga Khan University and head of the NCD Alliance of Kenya said the rising cases were linked to four risk factors. They include smoking, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity and excessive alcohol consumption.

Presenting a paper on the burden of NCDs, Prof. Yonga said research had shown that heart diseases was the leading cause of deaths among people who suffer with HIV.

‘Certain drugs for HIV can lead someone to get heart disease, so it is important that one gets reviewed by a doctor whenever such changes are notice,’ Prof. Yonga said.

In Uganda, HIV-related deaths dropped from 120,000 in 1998 to 63 000 by the end of 2014, according to statistics from the Uganda Aids Commission.

Scientists from Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania will share experience on disease prevention, control and management.

The conference will also discuss the challenges and innovations in improving access to safe and quality medicine and the ‘one health model of service.


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