«I was wandering around the market stand at FEIMA, Maputo’s traditional handicrafts fair, when a voice from a loudspeaker invited all visitors to have a free screening. Thus, I discovered CUAMM, engaged in a prevention campaign to measure blood sugar and blood pressure. In the past, I had already checked myself for diabetes at the capital’s Central Hospital, but to be able to do so in this context was fantastic! I hope that similar initiatives will be repeated in the future, because it is important to receive medical advice even outside hospitals».
These are the words of Salvador, 65, collected by CUAMM workers in the field. According to the Ministry of Health, in Mozambique most of the population suffering from diabetes and hypertension do not know their diagnosis: for hypertension, only 15.2% of men in the urban area and 7.9% in the rural area know; 33.2% of women in the urban area and 8.9% in the rural area. For diabetes, 13%. And this is why the “Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases” project, realised by CUAMM, has among its activities the organisation of health fairs to offer screening and diagnosis services, outside health units.
The choice of location always falls on particularly crowded areas, in order to attract attention with the help of community activists, who inform passers-by about chronic diseases, the importance of regular check-ups, and try to encourage them to check that they do not suffer from diabetes and hypertension. As happened in Maputo, during the handicrafts fair: in this context, Naima+, a network of NGOs, organised a fair within a fair, entitled “Your health, our priority”, during which CUAMM was involved in diabetes and hypertension screening activities. Participation was very high and many people who had never heard of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) found out that they were affected, so they started specific treatment.
«I work at a stand at the craft market and, like many colleagues, I had never checked my blood sugar in my life. I am happy that health personnel came to the fair, because I realised the value of proper nutrition to avoid getting sick», Maria Luisa, 48, told us.
CUAMM activist Wuengue explained how even a “simple” job can help save lives: «My job is simple, I talk to people about diabetes and hypertension. I realise, however, that my commitment has great significance when I find that I can convince women and men to go for check-ups. I know that I have the chance to awaken curiosity in people and the desire to take care of their health».
«Non-communicable diseases are silent and, often, people only arrive at the emergency room when their health is compromised. With these health fairs we are able to do prevention and save lives», said health technician Helder.
When someone is reluctant to get screened, the elderly and young people are convinced to get tested thanks to the awareness of the activists who have skills and sensitivity. The craft market provided an ideal opportunity to raise awareness about insidious and rapidly increasing, but preventable and controllable diseases through good practices and early diagnosis.