This initiative, started by CUAMM and implemented in collaboration with AIFO, is funded by the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS).
Mozambique is a special country for the Community of Sant’Egidio. The peace negotiations to start with and then finally, the first DREAM centre, which opened in Maputo in 2002. The commitment to the prevention and treatment of HIV in Africa, from being a dream, was turning into reality. Over time, there have been new challenges and many more activities have been carried out. In 2019 DREAM started collaborating with CUAMM and AIFO on a new project, supported by AICS, to prevent and treat chronic diseases in Mozambique, with benefits for over 370,000 people.
Treating non-communicable diseases in Africa is now an integral part of the DREAM programme. In fact, in our healthcare centres, we do not only carry out prevention and treatment of HIV but also of diabetes, hypertension and cervical cancer. These diseases are an growing health challenge. Malnutrition, poverty and poor education only make the situation worse. Focusing on prevention in order to reduce the economic but above all human costs. This is the heart of the new project that we are taking part in, a value that we share and apply in all our centres. All the over 40,000 DREAM patients in Mozambique are screened annually for chronic diseases.
Dr Fausto Ciccacci, one of the doctors in charge of medical interventions in the DREAM programme explained that, “Hypertension and diabetes are increasing in Mozambique, also due to the economic improvement and increase in life expectancy. The country’s healthcare system is therefore facing a double challenge: emerging diseases together with the unfortunately still widespread diseases caused by poverty”. The World Health Organisation itself has highlighted the relationship between chronic non-communicable diseases and poverty. The poorest people have a less healthy lifestyle, which leads to the development of syndromes that in poor countries requires treatments that are too expensive for them. There is therefore a vicious circle of poverty, lack of access to treatment and development, which has to be broken with targeted and long-term interventions.
DREAM’s commitment to the project includes a new approach. We will not be operating in our centres but in state hospitals and healthcare centres. We will be working in three provinces throughout the country: Maputo, Sofala and Zambezia. Two hospitals and 12 healthcare centres will take prevention and treatment to villages and remote areas, to support the healthcare system. Training will be provided for local doctors and healthcare personnel, the first step in the intervention. Prevention and treatment will be possible and effective with the transfer of knowledge of the topics regarding chronic diseases. The project will also provide the healthcare facilities with equipment and drugs. Community screening and awareness raising activities will be carried out, as well as data collection and operational research. All this in order to reach the Millennium Development Goal 3.4: to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by a third by 2030.
For the Community of Sant’Egidio, this project represents not only a new approach to the way it works but above all another step in supporting the Ministry of Health and for the wellbeing of the people of Mozambique.