Govt, UN call for more action to fight Non-Communicable Diseases

October 26, 2021

Minister of State for Primary Health Hon. Margaret Muhanga, the UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah, Dr. Bayo Fatnmbi representative from WHO and other stakeholders during the launch of a Joint Programme on Catalyzing Multisectoral Action for Non-Communicable Diseases.

Uganda is one of many countries burdened by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Africa. Reports show that NCDs affecting Ugandans include cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health conditions and substance abuse conditions. In Uganda, nearly one in four adults dies from an NCD before the age of 70, and NCDs are estimated to kill around 100,000 Ugandans annually.

Despite commitment and interventions from the Government of Uganda, more needs to be done to invest in prevention and control of NCDs. To strengthen and fast-track multisectoral action in selected countries including Uganda, the United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) established the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joint program for prevention and control of NCDs. The catalytic project is intended to fast-track critical actions for the prevention and control of NCDs in Uganda. The 2-year project, funded by the European Union will focus on:

-       Briefing parliamentarians on NCD risk factors.

-       Supporting parliamentarians to develop effective and feasible laws.

-       Undertaking policy dialogue to facilitate a whole-of government and whole of society response to NCDs.

Developing a National NCD Strategy and to strengthen the NCDs multisectoral coordination structure. 

Hon. Margaret Muhanga, Minister of State for Health (right) and the UNDP Res Rep, Ms. Elsie Attafuah (left) during the launch of the WHO-UNDP Global Joint Programme on Catalyzing Multisectoral Action for NCDs

Speaking during the project launch, Hon. Margaret Muhanga the Minister of State for Health, noted that the fight against NCDs is in high gear, though the country has funding and technical challenges to fully address NCDs and requires partners to support the country in this fight. She applauded UNDP and WHO for efforts made thus far and pledged Government’s commitment in the implementation of the project as well as support for NCD services in the country.

Need for greater investments to deal with NCDs

UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Elsie Attafuah speaks during the WHO-UNDP Global Joint Programme on Catalyzing Multisectoral Action for NCDs

On her part, UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah noted the need for greater investment in building partnerships for sustainable health financing and supporting the NCDs multisectoral coordination mechanism for prevention and improved service delivery. She called upon all stakeholders to join hands in the NCD struggle to lessen their impact on both individuals and the country’s economy.

“All sectors have a role to play in mitigating NCD risk factors in their areas of influence as an urgent cross cutting issue of great importance. NCDs prevention starts earlier in life and everybody has a role to play,” she said, reiterating UNDP’s support toward good health and development.

According to the representative from WHO, Dr. Bayo Fatnmbi, the rise of NCDs in Africa and Uganda requires multi-sectoral action that focuses on partnerships through a holistic society approach, increased policy coherence across sectors and through all levels of governance.

The WHO-UNDP Global Joint Programme on Catalyzing Multisectoral Action for NCDs is one of the flagship projects for the United Nations Interagency Task Force.  Uganda is one of three African countries that were identified to pilot this project. The UNIATF works with United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) to provide technical support for scaling up multisectoral action on NCDs and mental health through whole-of-government and society responses. The UNIATF supported Uganda in developing the NCDs investment case and is currently developing the Mental Health Investment Case to guide government on the most effective and cost-effective intervention based on evidence.

Expected outcomes of the project include evidence based, effective and feasible laws and regulations for NCDs risk factors enforced; a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response to NCDs and a National NCD strategy to be updated and implemented.