AMTL: “MoH must empower communities with health education to combat IDs and NCDs”

AMTL: “MoH must empower communities with health education to combat IDs and NCDs”

President of AMTL, Andre Monteiro

DILI, 12 april 2022 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste Medical Association (AMTL) urged the Ministry of Health (MoH) to invest more in health education to raise the awareness of the communities in combating the infectious diseases (IDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

“The importance of investing more in health education is crucial to inform, educate and empower communities about health issues to encourage a healthier way of life,” Monteiro told TATOLI at his office, in Dili, on friday.

He said health professionals strived to inspire communities to make better health choices, saying the government needed to do more: “For instance, the government did really well in educating the communities on the prevention of the Covid-19 during the state of emergency.  But, unfortunately, the Ministry of Health hasn’t done enough in terms of health education to combat dengue, HIV, TB, Hepatitis, cancer, etc.”

“Therefore, I call on the government, especially the Ministry of Health to invest more in health education, as we did with Covid-19 to combat IDs and NCDs in the country. You know, so far, MoH spent too much money on the treatment of the diseases rather than investing on health education,” he stressed.

There are many different strategies for effective health education in communities to promote interaction and raise awareness of the citizens in combating the diseases.

“MoH needs to collaborate with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (SEJD) to include the prevention measures of IDs and NCDs in the school’s curriculum,” he said.

He emphasized that through effective health education strategies, public health officials, educators, parents, social workers, and relevant parties can make a considerable impact on the overall health and knowledge within communities.

“The Ministry of Health shouldn’t combat the disease alone. Thus, it must involve communities themselves in the combat against communicable and communicable diseases through health education. Here is the solution. For instance, every household must have a leader who is in charge of controlling and managing his or her family members in the prevention of diseases,” Monteiro said.

He suggested that MoH also needed to cooperate with the local leaders to mobilize the communities to attend the health education carried out by health professionals: “Both health professionals and local leaders must work together to raise the awareness of the communities on the prevention of the diseases at least once a month. It’s unwise to realize health education after a disease like dengue has claimed many lives.”

Health education is important in building a better society. This is because healthy citizens learn, work, and interact with others better. Hence, MoH must invest more in health education to focus on giving people the tips and facts they need to know to protect themselves from IDs and NCDs, he concluded.

WHO reported that modifiable behaviors, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol, all increase the risk of NCDs. Meanwhile, key risk factors for communicable diseases identified in the academic literature can be broadly grouped into categories such as Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), health and public health system, environment, humanitarian response, infrastructure, insecurity, living conditions, nutrition, mass population displacement and economy.

To lessen the impact of infectious and NCDs on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach is needed requiring all sectors, including health, finance, transport, education, agriculture, planning, and others, to collaborate to reduce the risks associated with NCDs, and to promote interventions to prevent and control them, said WHO.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Each year, more than 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, said WHO.

Related news:AMTL calls on Ministry of Health to promote fresh graduate doctors from UNTL

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Rafy Belo


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