Zambian government places multi-sectoral control and prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) on centre stage following the 5-9 December 2016 visit of UN Inter-Agency Task Force on NCDs.

Lusaka, 12 December 2016 - The Zambian Government was honoured as the fourth country in Africa to host the Joint Mission of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (UNIATF) from 5-9 December 2016. The objective of the visit by the UNIATF to Zambia was to support the UN Country Team and the Government to scale up the national multi-sectoral response to NCDs in line with the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 and relevant regional WHO action plans.

The timing of the mission could not have been better with the President His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu pronouncing the week 27 November to 4 December 2016 as the inaugural national health week focusing on lifestyle behaviour changes. During the mission in Zambia, the taskforce held meetings with the, the Minister of Health, Hon. Chitalu Chilufya, officials at Ministry of Health and the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia, Mrs Esther Lungu. The Taskforce also met with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Non-governmental organisations and conducted consultations with different government ministries. 

NCDs are a major public health concern in Zambia and the major NCDs, namely cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, are leading causes of mortality and accounted for 23% of all deaths in 2008. Road traffic accidents is the third leading cause all deaths. Although there has been consistent investment in the health budget, the NCD component remains underfunded. Primary Health Care basic services at community level are free to the general population through government health facilities but are more tailored to combat communicable diseases. There is a strong commitment in getting to Universal Health Coverage. Although there is no mechanism for non-health sectors engagement in NCDs, there are some multi-sectoral actions already in place, e.g. on road safety and mobile health. There is inadequate legislation and regulations on key risk factors including tobacco, alcohol and diet and the capacity for enforcement of existing laws and regulations is weak.

The taskforce made recommendations for alignment of the 2017-21 NCD strategic plan with Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, Vision 2030 and the SDGs targets, including formation of a multi-sectoral coordinating committee and the involvement and support of non-state actors. It also recommended implementation of the STEPs survey 2017 on NCDs and inclusion of NCD indicators in the 2018 Demographic Health Survey and the development of appropriate legislation to address NCDs. Specific recommendations were also made to address NCD risk factors, particularly tobacco, alcohol, healthy diets, physical activity including the integration of lessons learned from HIV into NCDs. 

The members of the taskforce included: Dr. Nick Banatvala, Senior Adviser, Office of ADG, NCDs and Mental Health, Geneva; Alexey Kulikov, External Relations Officer, WHO Office to the United Nations; Meleckidzedeck Khayesi, Technical Officer, HQ/NMH/NVI/UIP; Steven Shongwe Regional Adviser for NCDs, WHO Office for Africa; Patrick Musavuli a WHO AFRO Consultant on NCDs; and Roy Small Consultant, Health and Innovative Financing, UNDP HQ.

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For More information contact:
Nora Mweemba, Health Promotion Officer
mweemban [at] who.int, GPN: 37609, Tel: 00 260 211 255322

Dr. Peter Songolo, Disease Prevention and Control Officer
Songolop [at] who.int, GPN: 37640, Tel: 00 260 211 255322

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01 Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, delivering his key note address at the high level stakeholders meeting on NCDS and development in Zambia

02 Dr. Nick Banatvala, Seniour Advisor, Office of the ADG, Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO, Geneva, making a presentation at the high level stakeholders forum on NCDs in Lusaka

03 (L-R) Dr. Sitali maswenyeho, UNICEF, Roy Samall, UNDP HQ, Dr. Jacob Mufunda, WHO Rep., Alexy Kulikov, WHO Office to the UN, Dr. Steven Shongwe, WHO AFRO,at a media briefing on the UNIATF on NCDs mission

04 Members of the taskforce , MOH and  UN Officials held a meeting with the First Lady of the Republic, Mrs Esther Lungu (Centre).

05 Members of the Taskforce, officials from the Ministry of Health and the  UN meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Health at Parliament buildings in Lusaka.

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