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Analytical summary - Non-communicable diseases and conditions

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Zambia is currently experiencing a major increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The common NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus (Type II), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, epilepsy, mental illnesses, oral health, eye diseases, injuries (mostly due to road traffic accidents and burns) and sickle anaemia.

Most of these health conditions are associated with lifestyles, such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use, while some are also associated with biological risk factors, which run in families.

The figures below present the trends in morbidity and mortality due to some of the NCDs.

Zambia NCDs

A needs assessment for the NCD programme was carried out and key findings were made, which also identified the gaps. Table xxx below, summarizes the key identified gaps.

Zambia Summary of the Needs Assement

Based on the recommendations from the NCD symposium (MOH NCD Symposium 2009), the NCDs programme has embarked on a number of interventions for the prevention and early detection of NCDs.

These include: the development of treatment protocols that will be used at the second level hospitals, where specialized clinics are being set up for NCDs; development of clinical nutrition and dietary guidelines; training of health workers in the management of NCDs; raising awareness levels on NCDs, through IEC materials like TV documentaries, posters, brochures and media discussions; and collaboration with various associations, to carryout screening programs, such as Blood Pressure (BP) check, Nutritional assessment, prostate and breast cancer; and advocating for change in unhealthy lifestyles. However, these interventions are yet to be extended to all districts and institutions.

The other interventions that have been identified, but not yet being implemented, include: development and implementation of an NCD policy; introducing and strengthening physical activities in all schools; community physical/sporting activities; promotion of healthy diets; strengthening enforcement of legislation on tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol; operational research; and monitoring and evaluation.