Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include conditions like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. We should not omit to mention chronic kidney disease, musculoskeletal conditions, and mental health.

Rapid urbanization and changes in dietary habits have led to an increase in unhealthy eating patterns, sedentary lifestyles, and the use of tobacco and alcohol in many LMICs. Indeed, many NCDs share those common risk factors. Hopefully, they are often modifiable through lifestyle changes and public health interventions. However, as the global population ages, the prevalence of NCDs is expected to rise dramatically.

Contrary to common beliefs, NCDs are now the leading cause of death in LMICs instead of infectious diseases; they represent nearly 3/4 of all deaths in LMICs, compared to 2/3 of all deaths in high-income countries. NCDs disproportionately affect vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, exacerbating existing health inequities. This is a major burden on healthcare systems in LMICs since the cost of treating NCDs is often a lifetime financial hardship for families and individuals, while straining under-resourced healthcare systems. NCDs often lead to increased healthcare expenditures for individuals and families in LMICs, where health coverage may be limited and out-of-pocket payments are common. Finally, its economic impact keeps hindering development and exacerbating poverty.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Burden and Challenges

NCD Prevention Consultancies

Surveys and Interventions

The best way to detect non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is through screening. Screening is a process of testing people who do not have any symptoms of a disease to see if they have the disease. It can be used to detect NCDs early, when they are easier to treat and control, and before life-threatening complications occur.

The most common screenings include blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and weight and height measurements to assess body mass index (BMI); all of which are risk factors for NCDs.

Surveys, and sometimes studies, allow us to have reliable surveillance and measurement of disease incidence/prevalence, mortality, and disease progression in a population. Hence, the global burden of disease can be better estimated.

Widespread, affordable mobile technology now allows using “Mobile Health” (mHealth) and telemedicine in collaboration with Community Health Workers (CHWs) to ease screening access and data recording. Ongoing health surveillance and data collection are crucial features of a successful NCD prevention program.

In companies, employee health surveys, health risk assessments, screening programs, and medical claims data analysis are examples of highly informative surveys used to improve the health status of employees and their overall well-being and productivity through targeted recommendations.

Once a clearer picture of the different NCD prevalences is available, recommendations to control the greatest risk factors can be initiated, i.e., healthy diet promotion, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol control, and salt reduction.

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