Non Communicable diseases programme
The Noncommunicable Diseases coordinates and implements the Africa Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.
Technical cooperation is provided to governments to strengthen their capacities for NCDs, with a focus on: promoting effective public health policies, strategies, programs, and evidence-based guidelines for NCDs; facilitating an integrated approach for NCD management, based on primary health care; monitoring and reporting on the burden of NCDs; and supporting multi-stakeholder partnerships.
The policy line of action in the Strategy for Noncommunicable Diseases encourages and provides technical cooperation for the establishment of sound and explicit public policies that support better health status and a life free of chronic disease-related disability, in initiatives taken to establish public health policies based on key AHO resolutions and recommendations that will address the broad social, economic, and political determinants of health
The Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Department promotes, coordinates, and implements technical cooperation activities directed to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, related risk factors, disabilities, and mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders that are sound and appropriate for the culture and society. It raises political and public awareness and understanding of burden of the most common NCDs, related risk factors, mental or neurological conditions, and leads multi-sector and multi-stakeholder strategic and collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening governments’ capacity to promote and protect health through public policies, programs, and services. This will reduce risks and disease burden in order to improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of the population.
Areas of work
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Integrated Disease Management
As the directing and coordinating authority on international health in Africa, AHO takes the lead within Africa System in the continent’s health sector response to cardiovascular diseases. The Cardiovascular Diseases Programme provides evidence-based, technical support to the countries of the Americas to help them prevent, manage, and monitor to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable response to cardiovascular diseases.
Reducing dietary salt is recommended to prevent non communicable diseases and AHO to improve population health. Excess dietary salt increases blood pressure causing approximately 30% of hypertension and is a probable pro carcinogen for gastric cancer and is also associated with kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Where assessed, the salt consumption is more than 5/g day, maximum quantity recommended. African descent people are particularly susceptible to the adverse blood pressure effects of excess salt. High levels of blood pressure is a contributory factor in at least 40% of all heart disease and stroke which represent 45 % of NCDs. Hypertension is a major health risk in Africa where between 20-35% of the adult population has elevated blood pressure.
- Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Africa.
- The number of cancer deaths in Africa is projected to increase to over 2 million by 2030.
- About a third of all cancer cases could be prevented by avoiding key risk factors. These include tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
- Vaccination and screening programmes are effective interventions to reduce the burden of specific types of cancer.
- Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood glucose (hyperglycemia). It is associated with an absolute or relative deficiency in the secretion and/or action of insulin.
There are three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common, accounting for approximately 85% to 90% of all cases. It is related to modifiable risk factors such as obesity or overweight, physical inactivity, and high-calorie diets of low nutritional value.
Methabolic syndrome is characterized by the presence of prediabetes in conjunction with one other cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor (hypertension, upper body obesity or dyslipidemia).
Chronic Kidney disease a serious public health problem in Africa
Chronic kidney disease has claimed thousands of lives in Africa and is a serious public health problem. AHO calls for stepped-up efforts to investigate and address the environmental and occupational factors believed to underlie the problem.
AHO also called for strengthening surveillance of the disease and medical care for affected patients, and urged the creation of alliances between different sectors, and especially with affected communities, to address the problem and mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of the disease.
Africa has reported a growing number of cases of chronic kidney disease that are not related to traditional causes such as diabetes and hypertension. Cases are concentrated among young men living in low-income communities. The disease appears to be associated with factors including environmental contaminants (most likely agrochemicals) and occupational risks (poor working conditions and insufficient water intake while working in high temperatures), among others.
In some countries, hospitalisations for CKD increased 50%, making CKD the leading cause of hospitalisation. In one country, nearly 1,500 of these hospitalised patients were under 19 years old (out of a total 40,000 hospitalised patients of all ages during the same period).
AHO calls for strengthening both epidemiological and environmental surveillance, and urges the development of a model of patient care for all stages of the disease.
AHO will continue to advocate improvements in environmental and occupational health, promote resource mobilisation, and provide technical support to improve surveillance. It will also prepare a research agenda.
Integrated Disease Management
Comprehensive integrated care, self-care, patient support and education, training for healthcare workers to improve the quality of care: This team works to facilitate and support the strengthening of the capacity and competencies of the health system for the integrated management of chronic noncommunicable diseases (CNCDs) and their risk factors.
The current acute health care model has not proven effective in dealing with prevention and management of chronic conditions. Successful chronic disease programs require an inter-sectoral approach and a reorientation of the healthcare system. It is necessary to improve the accessibility and availability of services and access to essential medicines and to have multidisciplinary health teams with the appropriate skill mix delivering services. Emphasis is needed on quality of care to reduce barriers related to social, economic, and cultural factors and to improve social protection for health, particularly among vulnerable populations.
In order to face these challenges, AHO’s action plan considers that prevention and management of chronic diseases requires integration through strengthened referrals and relationships among primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of care. The entire spectrum of disease management from prevention to screening and early detection, diagnosis, treatment, self-care, rehabilitation, and palliative care is necessary.
Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health
The Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Department promotes, coordinates, and implements technical cooperation activities directed to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, related risk factors, disabilities, and mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders that are sound and appropriate for the culture and society. It raises political and public awareness and understanding of burden of the most common NCDs, related risk factors, mental or neurological conditions, and leads multi-sector and multi-stakeholder strategic and collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening Member States’ capacity to promote and protect health through public policies, programs, and services. This will reduce risks and disease burden in order to improve the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the population.