As people with cardiovascular disease face greater risk of developing severe forms of COVID-19 disease, the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has urged Ugandans to live a healthy lifestyle as well as utilize digital tools to monitor and manage cardiovascular disease.
The Minister has appealed to the public to make better choices by eating well and engaging in physical exercises, on top of avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and observing COVID-19-related safety protocols.
Dr Aceng made the appeal on Wednesday as Uganda marked World Heart Day.
Last week, Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) launched a two-month campaign dubbed ‘Use your Heart to Connect’.
“This year on World Heart Day, we want you to listen to your heart, attend your regular check-ups and ensure to call the emergency services if you need to. This will enable you to get professional medical care,” the Minister said.
The ‘Use your Heart to Connect’ campaign aims at rallying every individual to use theirknowledge, compassionandinfluence to make sure themselves, their loved ones and the communities they live in have the best chance to live heart-healthy lives.
This year, Uganda Heart Institute has chosen to leverage technology to create awareness on prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases. The education series will be broadcast across all local radio and Tv stations as well as social media platforms throughout September and October).
The Minister of Health, Dr Aceng added; “In such unprecedented times, we don’t know what course the pandemic will take in the future, but we do know that taking care of our hearts is now more important than ever.”
In his remarks, Dr John Omagino, the Executive Director of Uganda Heart Institute, stressed the need to eat a balanced diet with all components – vegetables, water, solid food and fruits.
“Routinely check yourself, at least once a year. We are setting up centres of excellence at regional level, so that should things fail, people are referred to these centres,” Dr Omagino said in his speech during the World Heart Day event at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.
On Wednesday, a host of Ugandan celebrities including singer Lydia Jazmine, comedian Patrick Salvado Idringi and former Miss Uganda, Sylvia Namutebi Allibhai, attended the World Heart Day event at Uganda Media Centre.
The celebrities added their voices to the campaign and committed to use their influence to create awareness about cardiovascular disease. In Uganda, every one in four adults have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, 80 percent of them are unaware of the disease.
“Sometimes, you work from morning to evening without eating anything. You realize at 6pm that you haven’t eaten anything, which is really wrong. I call upon fellow artistes and the public to really mind what you eat and how you eat,” said Jazmine who revealed that her father was diagnosed with a heart problem.
“One morning he woke up and he couldn’t walk. They (doctors) told us there was a very small vein that transports blood to heart, it had been blocked. He almost died. He’s now back on his feet, thanks to the good doctors at Mulago hospital.”
Salvado pledged to control his consumption of alcohol and eventually stop completely.
“If you notice, I no longer represent any alcohol brands, because I don’t want to influence so many people into it,” he said, adding; “my pledge is to live a better life, to eat healthy and work out more.”
On her part, Namutebi spoke to the need to address the knowledge gap in communities regarding the importance for people to workout regardless of their slim size.
“I’m slim, and people always ask me ‘Why are you working out?’ Working out is not only for weight loss. It’s also for your heart health. That’s why we have cardio – an exercise targeted for your heart health,” Namutebi said.
She pledged to use her status as an influencer to bring heart health to the attention of the public.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)is the world’s number one killer, resulting in 18.6 million deaths a year. It has many causes ranging from smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, to air pollution, and less common conditions such as Chagas disease and cardiac amyloidosis.