Regular health checks, like these in Sierra Leone, can help to detect the early signs of disease. Photo: Jim Loring/Tearfund
Regular health checks, like these in Sierra Leone, can help to detect the early signs of disease. Photo: Jim Loring/Tearfund

NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

When I was a small child, my grandmother was looking after me when she started to feel unwell. She called a neighbour who quickly recognised the signs of a heart attack and called an ambulance. Thankfully my grandmother survived, partly due to her neighbour’s quick thinking.  

Many of us will have watched someone in our community suffer with a non-communicable disease (NCD) like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or a chronic respiratory disease. In fact, NCDs are the biggest cause of death in the world today and are a growing problem.  

As I’ve edited this issue, what has caused me grief, but also given me hope, is that many of these diseases are preventable. You can read about how to reduce your risk of developing NCDs on our centre spread, how to eat healthily (page 3) and how to share health messages (page 14). Many lives could be saved by people learning how to respond to a heart attack or stroke, like my grandmother’s neighbour did (page 16).

We can also learn to care for those who are suffering and help to improve their lives. Many people with diabetes lose limbs due to the disease so we have featured wheelchairs in this edition. There is also a Bible study reflecting on how to love those who are drawing to the end of their lives and show them the love which Jesus himself modelled to us.

I hope you will find this issue interesting and will share it with others. As I take on the editorship from Helen Gaw while she looks after her new baby boy, it is with a great sense of privilege. I am humbled by all the work which our many readers do throughout the world and love hearing your stories of transformation.  

Please find below articles from Footsteps issue 87 in html.

To download a pdf version of Footsteps issue 87, please click here (PDF 1 MB).


  • Cancer: a personal experience

    [Health] Selina David (not her real name) is a patient with tongue cancer in Geita district, Tanzania. She is also HIV positive which makes her more vulnerable to diseases like cancer. She very kindly gave this interview to Mary Makalanga, a Palliative Care Coordinator who works in partnership with Tearfund.

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  • Creative ways of communicating health messages

    [Communication] ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a well-known proverb. Non-communicable diseases often develop because people do not know basic health information which would help them to reduce their risk of disease. It is im-portant to communicate health messages to people in ways that are engaging and which will help them to remember.

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  • First Aid: Heart attacks and strokes

    [Health] HEART ATTACK What is a heart attack? A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. The lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscles. If left untreated, the muscles will begin to die. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

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  • Freedom through mobility

    [Technology] by Lucy Norris Benjamin Ramo is 60 years old and lives in Gilbert Camp, Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. Nine years ago Benjamin developed diabetes. After experiencing long-term complications with septicaemia (blood poisoning), he eventually lost his right lower leg when it became infected and had to be amputated.

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  • Healthy eating

    [Health] by Dr Ann Ashworth. The ‘double burden’ of disease Many low- and middle-income countries are facing a ‘double burden’ of disease. They continue to have the old problems of infectious diseases, but at the same time are experiencing a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Being overweight is one of the underlying factors.

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  • Letters

    Planting bamboo I am just writing to thank you for your information on how to plant bamboo. I am 49 years old, since I was about seven years old I had this passion for bamboo. I have been planting it since then, and sometimes I just got lucky and it grew. Other times I spent a lot of time and it sprouted but a month later it died.

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  • Living with diabetes

    [Health] This article focuses on ‘Type 2 Diabetes’ which in most cases develops in adults due to a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. On the centre spread (page 9), you can read about the symptoms and risk fac-tors associated with diabetes.

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  • Non-communicable diseases: a growing challenge

    ‘The rise of chronic non-communicable diseases presents an enormous challenge … Non-communicable diseases deliver a two-punch blow to economies and development. They cause billions of dollars in losses of national income, and they push millions of people below the poverty line, each and every year.’

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  • Resources

    PILLARS – Healthy Eating This Tearfund guide contains ideas to help improve household nutrition at low cost – food groups, kitchen gardens, recipes, methods of food preservation and hygiene. It explores the importance of a good diet in maintaining health and resisting disease, as well as the nutritional needs of pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, young children and older people. The PILLARS series provides practical, discussion-based learning on community development. The Guides are designed ...

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  • Staying healthy: Reducing your risk of developing non-communicable diseases

    [Health] The four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) share common risk factors. Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Read more about recognising the signs of NCDs and how to help to prevent yourself and others from developing these diseases.

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  • Tobacco control at the community level

    [Community Development] by Dr Nathan Grills In terms of global threats, tobacco is one of the biggest dangers in the world today. In 2010, more than five million people died from the effects of smoking or chewing tobacco. This is not just a disease of the rich. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 per cent of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries. Tobacco remains the only legally available consumer product that will kill at least a third of all users.

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