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FG Unveils New Policy To Tackle Rising Non-Communicable Diseases @ PHCs

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NCD Non-Communicable Diseases

In a significant move to combat the escalating burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has announced the impending adoption of the National Task-Shifting and Task-sharing (NTSTS) Policy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs in Nigeria.

The policy will serve as an addendum to the existing Task-Shifting/Task-Sharing Policy for Essential Healthcare Services.

Speaking to journalists during the 64th National Council on Health (NCH) technical session in Ekiti State, the director of public health at the ministry, Dr. Anyaike Chukwuma explained the policy’s objective to decentralise comprehensive NCD prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment and rehabilitation services to primary healthcare (PHC) facilities.

Chukwuma emphasised the policy’s focus on multi-sectoral engagement, curriculum review, and the training, re-training, mentoring, and supportive supervision of PHC workers. The goal is to enhance their capabilities to effectively prevent and control prioritised NCDs in Nigeria. Implementing this policy is expected to shift the country toward a patient-centred approach, accelerate progress in NCD prevention and control, contribute to achieving universal health coverage, and align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The director highlighted key benefits of the policy, particularly early detection and timely treatment of simple, uncomplicated NCDs. By task-shifting responsibilities to PHC workers, the policy aims to reduce the necessity for more expensive treatments at higher levels of healthcare, ultimately improving resource efficiency. This strategy allows available human resources for health to effectively address the emerging burden of chronic diseases, save lives, and enable physicians to concentrate on high-risk cases.

The adoption of the NTSTS policy is viewed as a crucial step in addressing the growing burden of NCDs at the primary healthcare level. It is anticipated to enhance access to NCD prevention and control services, elevate patient care, and contribute to an overall improvement in the country’s healthcare system.

Globally, NCDs account for 74 per cent of all deaths annually, with 86 per cent occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In Nigeria, NCDs contribute to 27 per cent of annual deaths, underscoring the urgency to address this through Primary Health Care (PHC) systems. The World Health Organisation recommends devolving NCD care to PHCs, utilising task-shifting and task-sharing strategies to strengthen PHC systems and enhance patient satisfaction.

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