A report Monday in the British newspaper The Guardian said a growing number of people in the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda are registering in health centers for non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, that are usually seen in older people and in urban areas.
Examples cited in the paper included a hypertensive 6-year-old, a 2-year-old with respiratory problems, a 40-year-old woman with kidney failure who became hypertensive during a pregnancy, and a 20-year-old woman, diagnosed with diabetes after falling into a coma.
The report says while the number of people with NCDs at Mahama is at 5% of the total caseload, the figures are rising every month. Mahama houses 58,000 of the country’s 127,000 refugees, The Guardian reported.
Dieudonne Yiweza, senior regional public health officer for East and Horn of Africa at the U.N. refugee agency told the publication, “Before, we said NCDs affect urban settings. Now, they are attacking refugee settings . . . Now, they are affecting children and young people. For refugees, this is a challenging situation.”
Yiweza said it is not uncommon to encounter children as young as 10 or 15 who have suffered strokes.
Contributing factors to the NCDs in young people, Yiweza said, include poor housing, a limited diet that often lacks protein, and trauma.