Though the project is ongoing, I thought I should let everyone know what I’ve been doing with all that GHAC funding! From June to August, I was in Maputo, Mozambique working with the incomparable Dr. Ana Olga Mocumbi endeavoring to assess the burden of non-communicable disease (NCD) on the Mozambican health system. The basic background is that as infectious diseases, primarily HIV, TB and malaria, have been more effectively combatted, and as Mozambicans have shifted to a somewhat more “Western” lifestyle, chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes have increasingly become an issue over longer, less healthy lifespans. The basic premise of our work is that while the Ministry of Health appreciates that there is a significant problem with NCD in the country, the Mozambican government has yet to address it adequately, focusing funding disproportionately on infectious disease. By publishing work on the real burden of NCD on the health system, perhaps its treatment and prevention can be appropriately addressed.
Our project centers on two patient populations, one from the emergency department at Hospital Central de Maputo, and the other from the inpatient wards at Hospital Mavalane in the northern part of the city. My role in the study to this point has been to locate representative patient records, convert the written charts into digestible data and to analyze that data with Dr. Mocumbi and other physicians in Maputo. I discovered quickly that transcribing hand-written Portuguese medical records can be, well, frustrating.
To date, we have sufficient data to begin analyzing the incidence and cost of respective diseases at Mavalane and will begin doing so within the week. I was certain when I was thumbing through boxes of illegible patient records in the TB-infested bowels of the wards at Mavalane, sweating through my facemask, that this study would never come together, and as I discuss with Dr. Mocumbi what we’ve already accomplished, somehow it has.