Stakeholders call for unified approach to tackle NCDs crisis

Tanzania NCDs

What you need to know:

  • Health stakeholders say that by integrating prevention, early detection and accessible treatment, Tanzania can effectively fight the rising tide of NCDs

Dar es Salaam. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a growing threat in Tanzania, accounting for nearly 34 percent of all deaths.

To address this crisis, stakeholders call for an integrated approach that strengthens preventive measures within primary healthcare facilities nationwide.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday during a joint symposium between the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and PharmAccess, the experts also emphasised the investment in public awareness to encourage people to adopt healthy ways of living because many of the diseases are caused by lifestyles.

The top 10 NCDs listed according to their prevalence are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cancer, mental health conditions, diseases of the eye, diseases of the ears, dental conditions, injuries, and kidney diseases.

PharmAcess cardiovascular country director, Dr Heri Marwa, said facilitating access to quality NCD treatment and care near communities, especially in dispensaries and health centres across the country, is important to facilitate screening and management of the NCDs.

“Training staff and community health workers to attend to patients is very important to help fight the challenge,” he said. Mr Marwa said that PharmAccess and NIMR recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to research NCDs and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to influence policy change and decision-making on the NCD burden.

Programme manager at PharmAccess-Zanzibar, Ms Faiza Abbas, noted that inadequate or unaffordable medications and supplies are among the major issues that hinder the success of some integration efforts, particularly for poorer populations.

She said: “It is important for the government and stakeholders to invest in innovative, community-based NCD care models that harness the potential of digital to enhance patient outcomes in resource-limited settings.”

The Principal Research Officer at NNIMR,Dr Mary Mayige,said the implementation of the WHO Pen Plus strategy has started to show positive outcomes in various areas as patients receive on-time quality care.

“Pen-Plus” strategies provide an integrated platform at first-referral level hospitals to address priority conditions such as type 1 diabetes (T1D), rheumatic heart disease (RHD), and sickle cell disease, as well as palliative care for advanced malignancies and other conditions.

She said, “The strategy urges countries to put in place standardised programmes to tackle chronic and serious non-communicable diseases by ensuring that essential medicines, technologies, and diagnostics are available and accessible in district hospitals.”