Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Preventable risk factors for noncommunicable diseases in rural Indonesia: prevalence study using WHO STEPS approach

Nawi Ng, Hans Stenlund, Ruth Bonita, Mohammad Hakimi, Stig Wall, & Lars Weinehall

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE

To gain a better understanding of the health transition in Indonesia, we sought to describe the prevalence and distribution of risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and to identify the risk-factor burden among a rural population and an urban population.

METHODS

Using the protocol of the WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS), risk factors for noncommunicable diseases were determined for 1502 men and 1461 women aged 15–74 years at the Purworejo Demographic Surveillance Site in 2001.

FINDINGS

Smoking prevalence was high among men (913/1539; weighted percentage = 53.9.%) in both rural and urban populations; it was almost non-existent among women. A higher proportion of the urban population and the richest quintile of the rural population had high blood pressure and were classified as being overweight or obese when compared with the poorest quintile of the rural population. Those classified as being in the richest quintile who lived in the rural area were 1.5 times more likely to have raised blood pressure and 8 times more likely to be overweight than those classified as being in the poorest quintile and living in the rural area. Clustering of risk factors was higher among those classified as being in the richest quintile of those living in the rural area compared with those classified as being in the poorest quintile; and the risks of clustering were just 20–30% lower compared with the urban population.

CONCLUSION

Both the rural and urban populations in Purworejo face an unequally distributed burden of risk factors for noncommunicable diseases. The burden among the most well-off group in the rural area has already reached a level similar to that found in the urban area. The implementation of the WHO STEPS approach was feasible, and it provides a comprehensive picture of the burden of risk factors, allowing appropriate health interventions to be implemented to address health inequities.

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