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Danida Alum on Zanzibar - Disease Prevention Saves Lives

16.07.2018  10:01

Omar Mwalim a Danida Alum, Zanzibar

Mwanakwerekwe, ZanzibarThe first impression of Omar Mwalim is of a tall, friendly and energetic man. The next is of a man who is absorbed in his work.

We meet at his office in Mwanakwerekwe about 15 minutes’ drive from Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town.

KARIBU and a big warm smile is the standard greeting in Zanzibar and Omar Mwalim’s is no exception.

“KARIBU”, he says, oozing an all-embracing friendliness as he offers me a cup of spicy tea. But when he starts talking about his work, his attention focuses and his concentration sharpens.

Fighting the world’s number one killer

Omar Mwalim leads Zanzibar’s efforts to combat the world’s number one killer, the non-communicable diseases (NCDs), at Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health.

NCDs include cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. These are all chronic non-infectious and non-transmittable illnesses that progress slowly. NCDs are popularly known as “lifestyle diseases” because they are commonly believed to be preventable, if you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Omar Mwalim lists the raw figures for NCDs in Zanzibar.

A recent study indicates that the number of diabetes and obesity cases in Zanzibar have risen from 3.7% and 17% respectively in 2011 to 7% and 23% today.

The numbers for high blood pressure (33%), smoking (7.3%) and alcohol (1.7%) are about the same as in 2011.

"Non-communicable diseases are silent killers in Zanzibar as elsewhere. It is paramount that we raise awareness about NCDs and related risk factors, conduct screenings and make services available for people, if we want to save lives, he says.

Long term engagement in disease prevention

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