NCD Surveillance

WHO NCD Surveillance strategy

Worldwide, noncommunicable diseases (NCD) currently represent 43% of the burden of disease and are expected to be responsible for 60% of the disease burden and 73% of all deaths by 2020. Most of this increase will be accounted for by emerging noncommunicable disease epidemics in developing countries.

Effective prevention strategies for NCDs do exist. However, they require specific data on risk factors so that priorities can appropriately be set and targeted interventions developed and monitored. The WHO Global NCD Risk Factor Surveillance initiative directly responds to this need.

Objectives

The overall objectives of the project are to develop guidelines and infrastructure for noncommunicable diseases (NCD) risk factor surveillance worldwide, with particular emphasis on developing countries, and to provide global information resources on risk factor burden, trends and distributions. Surveillance is an essential tool for evidence-based public health decision making and the monitoring of the success of public health interventions with the ultimate aim of containing and reducing the emerging epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.

Specific objectives

A comprehensive analysis of the availability of data on the main risk factors for NCDs worldwide, analysis of the global distribution and trends, and summary of the challenges and information gaps to be addressed in view of the development of global NCD risk factor surveillance infrastructure; The development of a global strategy for NCD risk factor surveillance; The implementation of the global strategy for NCD risk factor surveillance in half of the WHO Member States over a period of 5 years, with special emphasis on country NCD risk factor surveillance capacity building and sustainability; The development of a global web-based NCD risk factor InfoBase for public health decision-making; The evaluation and impact analysis of the first 5 year NCD risk factor surveillance implementation phase.

Expected outcomes

Increased awareness of the value of risk factor surveillance for noncommunicable diseases monitoring and control; Guidelines for NCD risk factor surveillance, to ensure the use of standardized and validated methods at country level; Country capacity for NCD risk factor surveillance developed and/or strengthened in half of the WHO Member States; Global information base on NCD risk factor burden, patterns and trends for public health decision making.

Background

Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) were estimated to have contributed to almost 60% of deaths in the world and 43% of the global burden of disease in 1999. Based on current trends, by the year 2020 these diseases are predicted to account for 73% of deaths and 60% of the disease burden. NCDs are already of major importance in developed countries and are rapidly becoming a major public health threat in the developing world. Over a period of 30 years the burden of disease from NCDs for developing and newly industrialized countries is expected to rise by more than 60% by 2020, compared to a rise of less than 10% in developed countries. The underlying cause of this NCD epidemic is the increase in lifestyle related risk factors resulting from social and economic changes. In many countries the increasing impact of globalisation has given momentum to this process.

A vast body of knowledge now exists about the risk factors of NCDs and experience in the prevention of them. It has been shown in both developed and developing countries that a comprehensive long term approach has the potential to reduce risk factors in the population and in turn, disease, disability and death. However, community-based interventions requires country specific data on risk factors so that priorities can be appropriately set and targeted interventions developed and monitored. For the data collection process to most effectively inform this process the data must be collected, analysed and used in a regular and systematic way. The WHO Global NCD Risk Factor Surveillance project directly responds to this need.

Strategy and activities

A detailed analysis of the availability of data on the main risk factors for NCDs worldwide, analysis of the global distribution and trends, and summary of the challenges and information gaps to be addressed in view of the development of global risk factor surveillance infrastructure is being conducted. The results of the situations analysis will be disseminated in various forms to reach a wide audience.

A global strategy for NCD risk factor surveillance has been developed based on the concept of a STEPwise approach to NCD Surveillance (STEPS).

Partners in the project

The WHO Global NCD Risk Factor Surveillance project is managed by the Cross Cluster Surveillance Initiative of the Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health cluster. Given its mandate as a cross cluster initiative, the Surveillance team draws on the technical expertise from all departments of the cluster, including the Tobacco Free Initiative, as well as on relevant expertise from other clusters, including the Behavioural Risk Factors Surveillance System.

The work is conducted in collaboration/coordination with:

Relevant clusters and departments within WHO; WHO Regional Offices; Other UN agencies; WHO Collaborating centres; WHO country offices; Governments and donors; Ministries of Health and leading scientific institutions for country action; Relevant NGOs; Existing initiatives and networks on NCD risk factor surveillance.

Project monitoring indicators

  • Number of countries trained in STEPS methodology
  • Number of countries able to contribute data according to the WHO Global NCD Risk Factor Surveillance strategy to the global NCD risk factor information base;
  • Number of visits to the WHO global risk factor information base Web;
  • Qualitative impact analysis among Ministries of Health and public health professionals.
The project will be considered successful, if, at the end of a 5 year period:

  • The first global assessment of country-specific burden, patterns and trends in major risk factors and identification of the gaps to be filled has been published;
  • Half of the WHO Member States conducted at least one survey following the WHO Global NCD Risk Factor Surveillance strategy;
  • The awareness of the potential of NCD risk factor surveillance for public health decision making is raised.
For further information on WHO NCD Surveillance and current projects , please email: steps@who.int

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