November 5th the Horseshoe Inn played host to the first Northern Cape NCDs workshop. The workshop was in partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Health and the SA NCD Alliance. The goal was to ascertain the feasibility of NCDs testing and problems faced by those on ground level.

The workshop attended by all sectors of the government departments from health facilities across the province. As well as industry and NGOs working in the province. The working groups aim is to find a working base line for testing and screening in the province at all levels.

The Northern Cape Department of Health made a commitment to working towards the goals of screening. Taking directive from what has worked and what the practitioners on the ground commented on what needs to be done for the goals to be achieved.

NGOs such as CANSA and industry attendees DisChem outlined their successes through their screening drives and initiatives. DisChem had managed to screen 22,000+ people in the province with their screening drive in partnership with The Heart and Stroke Foundation over the month of October. CANSA had screening initiatives running and various hospitals in the province consistently.

During the workshop, Project Hope ran screening facilities for the workshop attendees. This gave the attendees a feeling for what needs to be done to greatly increase the numbers of people tested in the province. As well, it gave them a glimpse into their own NCD status that often would go unchecked due to the nature of their fields and overlooking themselves.

The problems outlined through the workshop were the cost and the logistics of the screening results. Firstly, the cost of R32 per blood glucose test and R55 per cardio patient focused testing. The cost is enormous and there simply is not the dedicated government budget put aside for the testing of patients and the clinics and primary care facilities do not have the resources to cover this. Coupled with this is a competent data capturing format that can allow health care givers to capture the results and it be sent nationally for areas of focus to be ascertained. This is essential in the process because without proper results and data capture the exercise is pointless.

The SA NCD Alliance left the workshop feeling confident that a start on a long and fruitful venture and partnership with the Northern Cape DoH had been forged. The road is a long one yet with constant skills and knowledge sharing as well as communication the goals outlined can be achieved.