Since the early nineties, Zimbabwe has been plagued by HIV/AIDS which over the years has seen countless numbers of people being infected and losing their lives. The high infection rates lead to various organisations investing a huge amount of resources to combat the disease.
Whilst this fight against HIV/AIDS has been taking place, another menace has been slowly creeping up and making it’s way to the forefront. That menace is chronic disease and there is an ever increasing number of Zimbabweans who are succumbing to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.
For some people, words such as “cancer” and “diabetes” are just that; words. For others they go far beyond being just words and have become a reality that they have to live with for the rest of their lives. This reality is not limited to the victims, their loved ones also fall victim with the emotional turmoil that they go through and they too may need to make slight adjustments to their lifestyles.
Increasing numbers of Zimbabweans are being diagnosed with various chronic conditions. For some, diagnosis is made at a later stage of the disease progression and at a point when a significant amount of irreversible damage has already been done. Such a diagnosis will more than likely bring about emotional and physical turmoil that may lead people into a state of hopelessness which may then lead them to having to deal with depression as well.
One of the necessary steps in the fight against chronic disease is education. There needs to be an increase in awareness to the point where the public has a basic understanding about various conditions and knows the answers to questions such as:
- what is cancer?
- what are the risk factors?
- what is diabetes?
- how do you prevent diabetes?
- how do you detect cancer?
- how do you prevent cancer?
- how do you detect diabetes?
- where can I get more information?
- where can I discuss any concerns?
- and so on and so forth….
Knowledge is power and being more informed about these topics will allow people to make better life choices. For those living with diabetes, cancer and other conditions, being knowledgable about their condition will allow for better self management.
There is no time better than the present to start having a conversation about chronic diseases. Beyond having these conversations, we need to start taking action on a number of fronts. Evidence suggests that a number of these diseases a brought about by lifestyle choices. That said, we can choose to make choices in our lives that reduce our risk factors and these can include good nutrition, keeping physically active, staying away from tobacco and managing stress.
These diseases are not going away anytime soon and you really need to ask yourself a question; is your life and the lives of your loved ones worth it?