Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Silent killer: 30% adult population in Uganda hypertensive but do not know

Kampala, 16 April 2013:World Health Organisation Uganda: Press Release
By Benjamin Sensansi

Uganda formally commemorated World Health Day 2013 with a national function held in Budaka district, Eastern Uganda. The commemoration under the theme “High Blood Pressure: A silent
killer” was presided over by the Minister of Health Dr Christine Ondoa.

In her speech Dr Ondoa revealed that in Uganda it is estimated that about 30% of the adult population have High Blood Pressure (HBP) and that 80% of these people do know that they have the problem. In addition, 80% of smokers who report to Mulago National Referral hospital have HBP and 50% to 60% of Out Patient Department patients (OPD) at the same hospital come because of HBP complications.

Dr Ondoa attributed the worrying HBP situation in the country mainly to four factors namely: inappropriate diet; physical inactivity; tobacco use and; harmful use of alcohol. She therefore advised Ugandans to adopt positive lifestyles that address those factors. She also advised Ugandans to regularly check their blood pressure and other conditions especially in the Regional Referral Hospitals that have been lately equipped to handle such investigations.

The Director General of Health Services Dr Jane Ruth Aceng underscored the importance of regular medical checkups and appealed to Uganda to have blood pressure checked at least once every year. She pointed out that HBP can be prevented by modifying lifestyles and even treated with medicines if detected early enough.

According to Dr Aceng, the Ministry of Health is contributing to the prevention, control and treatment of Non"communicable Diseases through strengthening of the health system, training of health workers, surveillance and monitoring. The Ministry is also providing palliative care in collaboration with partners
and the private sector.

Dr Solomon Fisseha the Officer in Charge at the WHO Country Office reported that hypertension is a silent killer that can affect anyone noting that one in three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure. The condition causes about 50% of all deaths from stroke and heart disease.

Most of the people affected by high blood pressure are often not even aware of the disease and its complications. Dr Fisseha pointed out that the rapid increase in non" communicable diseases has serious implications for socio"economic development in developing countries. This is because the
early death or disability due to HBP results into loss of income, diminished workforce, and increased health care spending for families, communities and the country.

He therefore appealed to government and all stakeholders to recognize access to essential
medicines for HBP and other NCDs as a fundamental human right that must be availed to all people who need them.

He urged everyone to eat healthy foods, reduce salt intake, avoid tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, control their body weight, and above all, regularly check your blood pressure. He appealed to the ministry of health as well as health professionals to give utmost importance to early detection and treatment of high blood pressure and prevention of its complications, and to implement standardized guidelines for hypertension management in primary health care settings.   

For more information please contact Benjamin Sensasi, Health Promotion Advisor, WHO Country Office Tel 
256-41-335500 Email: 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Museveni Speech at Inauguration of Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta


H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda


NAIROBI      -        9TH APRIL 2013

Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,

Your Excellency President Mwai Kibaki,

Your Excellency President Daniel Arap Moi,

Your Excellencies, the Heads of State and government,

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the people of Uganda, the people of East Africa, the COMESA Regional trade group and the ICGLR, I congratulate President Uhuru Kenyatta, Vice President William Ruto, the Jubilee Coalition and all the people of Kenya, on their victory in the Match 4, 2013 presidential and general elections. The people of Uganda congratulate you all, especially for holding peaceful elections.

Allow me also to thank the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, together with the other Presidential Candidates who participated in this election, although they did not win, in the end. In reality, however, they too won because they enriched the process by offering clear options out of which the 14 million voters in Kenya could choose from. In particular, I would like to salute, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka for the statesman-like manner in which they handled the election outcome. They took their grievances to court and accepted the verdict although this was not favourable to them.

I must also congratulate the Jubilee Coalition for being magnanimous and not provocative as they celebrated their victory. This is democracy – Democracy by completion. We also must salute the Kenyan Media for exhibiting a high standard of professional integrity and maturity throughout the exercise. This maturity exhibited by different actors in this Kenyan electoral process, is a source of pride for all the Africans. I congratulate all of you!

President Uhuru Kenyatta, the people of Kenya have given you the mantle of leadership at a time when great opportunities exist for the East African Region. There is total peace and harmony in the entire Region and, as you know, that was not always so. By concerted actions and sacrifice, we are together forcing all chauvinistic and wrong ideologies to retreat from our Region, especially in Somalia. This will mean full peace and focus on programmes that ensure real prosperity for East Africans, the people of Somalia and the people of South Sudan.

Our Region has also discovered substantial quantities of oil and natural gas. All the member countries of the EAC have varying levels and amounts of deposits of these natural resources. Uganda, in particular, discovered oil in 2006, but has not been able to start the extraction process owing to a battle our country has had with oil companies. Some of them had the usual stereotype impression about Africa, of being unable to understand our needs and let alone develop our resources in a correct manner. We rejected those schemes and are now about to conclude an oil and gas extraction plan that will be equitable to Uganda and the oil companies. Time has come, therefore, for our Region to coordinate policies that will optimize the use of our natural resources and make efficient use of their exploitation for the transformation of our communities.

As you all know, African nations have been struggling, begging and borrowing from external sources, to develop infrastructure that allows them a steady path to industrialization. On account of this coordinated effort and unity of purpose, we will meaningfully exploit our resources which God has given us, add value to them and fully grow our economies to maturity and begin an irreversible break from poverty. This will be the true independence that African nations fought for.

East Africa is not about oil alone. It is also about first and foremost, trade and the exchange of goods and services – utilizing the integrated market of East Africa. These newly discovered natural resources, therefore, are only catalysts to enable us move quickly and develop other sectors; sectors that are more durable and sustainable than minerals including oil and gas.

Among the areas that must be aggressively developed is the trade within and outside the Region for Africa; so that the oil and gas found does not divert us, important as it may be. Our inexhaustible source of wealth is in agriculture, industry, services and the human resource that consumes what is produced and in turn produces items of trade. We need to improve the atmosphere for the East African producers (the business people) by completing the economic integration of East Africa. East Africa intra-trade, for example, stands at a paltry of 13% of all total trade volumes. The European Union (EU) and the North American trading blocks on the contrary, stand at 60% and 48% respectively. Removing infrastructural barriers (using our discovered natural resources) and tackling production capacity constraints (skilling our labour force), therefore, will enhance productivity at household and enterprise levels, end poverty and make Africa much stronger. We should also remove completely the phenomenon of non-tariff barriers such as numerous weigh bridges, police road blocks, delays at border crossings, etc.

in the scriptures, there is the Lord’s Prayer, which teaches us: “thou shall not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil”. By remaining weak and fragmented, Africa tempts the greedy to try and dominate her. Africa has a duty to stop tempting others. Africa must integrate and strengthen herself. An integrated market makes it easier for companies to make a profit because they have more buyers.

This is my own opinion now. Before I was speaking on behalf of the people of East Africa, the COMESA regional trade group and ICGLR…this is my opinion. Furthermore, I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one other issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda. I was one of those that supported the ICC because I abhor impunity. However, the usual opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution. They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like. What happened here in 2007 was regrettable and must be condemned. A legalistic process, especially an external one, however, cannot address those events. Events of this nature first and most importantly, need an ideological solution by discerning why they happened. Why did inter community violence occur? Was it for genuine or false reasons? Even if you assume they were genuine reasons as a hypothetical argument, why should villagers attack one another? Would the villagers have been responsible for whatever mistakes that would have occurred? Instead of a thorough and thoughtful process, we have individuals engaged in legal gymnastics!

In Uganda’s case, between 1966 and 1986, we lost about 800,000 persons killed by the leaders who were in charge of the country. How did we handle that sad history? Have you ever heard us asking ICC or the UN to come and help us deal with that sad chapter of our history? We only referred Joseph Kony of LRA to ICC because he was operating outside Uganda. Otherwise, we would have handled him ourselves. Equally, Kenyan actors are the ones best qualified to sit and delve into their history in order to discover the ideological stimuli the Kenyan society needs.

I, therefore, use this opportunity to salute the Kenyan voters again, rejecting that blackmail and upholding the sovereignty of the Kenyan people. The people of Kenya extended hospitality to Ugandans when they had to run out of their country because of criminal rule in Uganda. I thank the people of Kenya and their leaders for this.

Finally, I salute His Excellency Mwai Kibaki with whom I worked so closely and who has served Kenya for the last 50 years in political leadership. He also contributed to the struggle for Uganda’s independence when he was a lecturer and student at Makerere University in the 1950s and 60s. May his retirement be enjoyable.
On a lighter note, a Member of Parliament from West Pokot was given to me as courtesy. The People of West Pokot used to steal my cattle. I urge President Uhuru to stop them from stealing my cattle. (added as he was concluding speech).

Thank you very much.
Nairobi, Kenya                       -           9th April, 2013.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why some African students study Science

By Esther Nakkazi
Many African children excelling at school dream of becoming poets, historians, musicians, after all it would be a double bonus, they would be following their passions and earning better than most African scientists peanuts pay.

But once parents and teachers gauge their potential, they influence their decisions and encourage them to become scientists. 

So, some African scientists, it is argued, excelled academically at school early but rather than choose their own careers, their parents and teachers influenced their choice gravitating them towards learning science to get into prestigious careers that would make the parents proud.

At the science festival organized by the BBC at Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, from Sunday 24 to Thursday 28th March 2013 one of the memory lanes we walked was back to the science classes at school.

After Uganda’s own Allan Kasujja’s Newsday programme, in the morning, later on a Monday afternoon we had the ‘World Have your say’ live programme by Ros Atkins to explore the perceptions of science at school and the audience views differed.

The audience had prominent scientists, Africa’s role model scientists like Professor Tejinder Verdee, a physicist from CERN. Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, a Ghanaian working with NASA, Professor Justin Jonas, from The Square Kilometre Array and other prominent scientists from Uganda. Also school children studying science were at hand to give an account of science at school today.

Most girls and women in the audience described science classes as boring, male dominated and not getting enough support from science teachers.

“When I applied for sciences, they told me girls are not capable of studying science well. They asked me if I have the capacity to learn it but I stuck to my choice,” said Esther Namaganda, a student from Kiira primary school at the BBC science festival.

“Right from day one, I did not understand anything in science and I tried to explain to my guardian who retorted that my parents (dead) both doctors were good at science and so must I. My consistent bad grades eventually made her leave me alone,” said a lady attending the BBC Science festival at Makerere University.

Other students attending the BBC festival held in a big tent erected in freedom square at Makerere, cited lack of enough time to study science, which is very practical as well as schools lacking the equipment, which de-motivates them.

Teachers defended their advice to students saying many students already have a biased mind that science is difficult, so once they detect such attitudes they discourage the students and advise them to study the arts.

But there is also another problem, which is exaggerated by the media. In Uganda, and some Africa countries, once the national examinations are released, the media rushes to publicize the schools and students that have excelled.

The academic fete in the media is closely followed by the public and influences the choice of schools by students, but also these learning institutions get better bargaining power, sometimes increasing fees with popularity.

“The pressure for schools to perform makes teachers persuade only students that excel to study science, “ said Gideon, a science teacher from Kabaale. “If you let the poor performing students in too, the overall school performance is affected and the media dwells on it.”

The scientists encouraged a shift of perception of science in schools and to refer to role Africa science models to change the tide.