By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Today marks the beginning of the 2nd African Regional Conference on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place from 12 – 14 January 2023.
The conference taking place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is running under the theme “NCD prevention, surveillance and management to achieve SDG 3 in the context of COVID-19 and other health emergencies.” The main goal of the meeting is to share experiences regarding the latest advances and trends in NCD prevention, management, and surveillance within the context of COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies including HIV / AIDS.
This year’s conference is jointly organized by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Non-Communicable Diseases Federation African Region. Clinton Health Initiative (CHAI), Midlands State University and United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) are some of the key stakeholders participating during the three-day conference.
7 countries from the African Region are participating in the conference together with key health stakeholders such as civil society health partners and donors. The conference participants include NCD prevention, surveillance and management experts from Ministries of Health, top researchers, and academia from Universities in the WHO African Region and beyond. The deputy minister for MoHCC, Honorable Dr. John Mangwiro, from the host country Zimbabwe, is the key guest attending the conference.
“This conference brings our attention to the urgent need to tackle NCDs as espoused in the National Health Strategy 2020 – 2025. It also presents an opportunity for us to take stock and share lessons we have learnt in implementing the WHO Package of Essential NCD interventions for primary health care in low-resource settings (WHO PEN) with other participating Member States from our Region,” said Honorable Dr John Mangwiro, Deputy Minister of MoHCC.
NCDs were responsible for 37% of deaths in the Region in 2019, rising from 24% in 2000. The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation.
“The conference provides an opportunity for public health practitioners, researchers and policy makers to deliberate on lessons learnt from COVID-19 Pandemic, identifying interventions for closing the implementation gaps, strengthening primary health care and research agenda to inform future NCD interventions to achieve SDG 3.4.,” says World NCD Federation Regional Coordinator, Professor Davison Munodawafa.
WHO’s NCD Team attending the conference is sharing and promoting the recent WHA resolutions on NCD prevention and management, WHO guidelines, technical products and tools that include WHO signature solutions for prevention and management of NCD, during the meeting.
WHO Zimbabwe Country Representative, Dr Alex Gasasira emphasized on the importance of the conference. “This conference will provide opportunities to strengthen integrated and person-centered NCD prevention, treatment and care. We expect the conference to come up with key recommendations on evidence driven and innovative ways of operationalizing existing global and regional policies and strategies which includes the WHO “NCD best buys and other cost-effective interventions,” he said.