27. Apr 2016

African policy makers endorse Call to Action on Diabetes and other NCDs

Gwendolyn Carleton
Document calls for enhanced joint efforts to accelerate implementation of national NCD responses – and offers specifics about how to proceed.
Delegates to the NCD Symposium in Dar es Salaam. “Together, we have created a strong document that can help us overcome the remaining barriers,” says Dr. Kaushik Ramaiya.
When more than 80 select representatives of Ministries of Health, the WHO, the African Union, the Global NCD Alliance, local/regional civil society groups and academic institutions met at the NCD Symposium in Dar Es Salaam on 17-18 March, the objective was clear. 
They were there to explore and share learnings from national responses to the diabetes and NCD epidemic in East, Central and Southern Africa.  They hoped to strengthen healthcare systems and improve lives throughout the region, using the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs 2013-2020 as their guide.
The meeting was organised and co-hosted by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, the East African Diabetes Study Group (EADSG) and the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF). Over two intense days, delegates and representatives from 17 different countries offered insights into what is working, what is not, and what could turn the tide of diabetes and other NCDs washing over the region.
A tangible outcome
The meeting’s high point was the endorsement of the 2016 Dar Es Salaam Call to Action on Diabetes and Other NCDs. The Call to Action began as a text prepared by the organising committee and circulated to delegates for comments, says Kaushik Ramaiya, Secretary of the EADSG. 
“We wrote the Call to Action during the event because we wanted a tangible and binding outcome of the symposium that we can refer to in our continuous efforts to contain the NCD epidemic in Africa,” he says. “Delegates stayed in the meeting hall late in order to refine it and take ownership of its observations and action points. Together, we have created a strong document that can help us overcome the remaining barriers to NCD care and prevention in our countries.”
Mr Bent Lautrup-Nielsen, WDF Senior Programme Manager and representative to the organising committee, adds: “This Call to Action encourages further efforts by African countries and international agencies and partners to achieve the WHO Global Action Plan and its commitments. It was drafted to underscore the need for accelerated and concrete action to unite stakeholders at all levels in the fight against diabetes and other NCDs.” 
The 2016 Dar Es Salaam Call to Action on Diabetes and other NCDs calls for the following:
1.  Develop, renew or refine national multisectoral NCD strategies and action plans in alignment with the WHO Global Action Plan and based on STEPS surveys and other available data and information, and on tangible achievements from countries of sub-Saharan Africa (and beyond)
2.  Strengthen NCD Units within Ministries of Health including through establishing of NCD coordinator positions at decentralized levels
3.  Establish or strengthen multisectoral national NCD steering committees under government leadership in order to ensure involvement and commitment of health as well as non-health stakeholders including, but not limited to, civil society, academia, professional societies , media, and, other non-state actors
4.  Develop, renew and refine integrated NCD protocols, clinical guidelines and training and awareness material, with emphasis on capacity building at primary care and community level, and on prevention broadly perceived 
5.  Mobilize domestic resources and international support to initiate or expand implementation of national NCD responses as defined through multisectoral national strategies or action plans, even if through incremental or stage-wise approaches that would catalyse scale up  
6.  Pursue opportunities through national level consultations to promote the inclusion of prevention and control of NCDs within responses to HIV/AIDS and within programmes for maternal and child health, as well as within other communicable disease programmes such as those on tuberculosis, and, including as part of wider efforts to strengthen prevention and control of NCDs through people-centred primary health care
7. Promote, respect and empower people affected by NCDs and involve them as equal partners in the implementation of national NCD responses 
8.  Share knowledge and best practices, and advocate within our countries and at regional and global level for further attention to and prioritisation of prevention and control of NCDs
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