Chronic diseases and health promotion

Integrated chronic disease prevention and control

National policies & strategies and action plans

There is a great deal of accumulated knowledge regarding possible intervention in programmes and policies for chronic noncommunicable disease prevention and control. Given the projections of this severe burden of chronic noncommunicable diseases, it is of central importance to begin the application of this expertise on a global level and particularly in low and middle-income countries. Joint action on the main factors in the population is an efficient, cost effective and sustainable way to reduce the incidence of major chronic noncommunicable diseases. It is crucial towards the implementation of the strategy to assist countries in developing national integrated strategic action plan and comprehensive policy frameworks for chronic disease prevention and control.

As part of the implementation of the strategy, an assessment of national capacity for NCD prevention and control was carried out by WHO in 2001. According to this survey, less than half of the 160 responding countries reported having NCD policies. One-third to one-half of the responding states reported having CVD, tobacco, diabetes, and cancer plans. A considerable proportion of countries did not have any legislation for tobacco or food & nutrition. Most countries do not have information on the major NCD risk factors included in their Annual Health Reporting System and a large proportion of countries indicated that they had no surveillance systems for major NCDs. In many countries, NCD prevention does not seem to be highly rated among other priorities in Ministries of Health. Less than two thirds of countries seem to have a NCD unit in their Ministries of Health, while only 39% reported having a specific NCD budget line.

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Based on the current situation and in order to address the active action at the country level, several key areas for action emerge as priorities for WHO technical support to Member States with regard to prevention and control of chronic diseases. These include: advocacy and marketing of chronic disease prevention; provision of expertise in practical policy development; supporting countries in initiating standardized data collection and strengthening surveillance systems; identifying minimally acceptable standards for the diagnosis and treatment of people with the major chronic diseases; developing an effective strategy for improving access to essential chronic disease drugs in low- and middle-income countries; looking for innovative ways of strengthening human resource capacity and providing training courses in technical and managerial aspects of policy formulation, programme development, implementation, and evaluation in the field of chronic disease prevention and control.

Examples of national integrated action plans or national policy frameworks for chronic disease prevention and control