In 2012, they caused 68% of all deaths (38 million), with about 70% mortality occurring in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). Risk factors related to a person’s background, lifestyle and environment increase the likelihood of developing an NCD. WHO estimates that by 2030, NCD mortality in the African region will increase by 27% (28 million) additional deaths; exceeding deaths caused due to communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases combined.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated vulnerabilities of people living with NCDs have further highlighted the acute risks of failure to effectively address the NCD burden in the African region, which also impacts the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and sustainable development goals at large. The Political Declaration made during the High Level UN General Assembly meeting on NCDs in July 2018 focused on advancing efforts to curb the alarming increase in the NCD burden globally.
At the high-level meeting with Government representatives, a serious concern on the growing costs when dealing with NCDs was raised. The meeting also cited lack of evidence-based measures to prevent and control NCDs in many countries despite the return on investment on known ‘Best Buys’ solutions for preventing and controlling NCDs of up to $7 for every dollar spent in low-and middle-income countries. The NCDs world still faces challenges of policies that do exist on paper, weak healthcare systems and regional and sub-regional capacity differences. There is need for enhanced efforts by regional and national policy-makers, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to improve the future policies on NCDs.
Given that many of the factors such as trade, education, transport and agriculture that influence the rise of NCDs exist outside the health sector, it is vital that political leaders engage in the fight against NCDs, to ensure a comprehensive, coherent, multi-sectoral response to guarantee the health of the present and future generations.
NCDs amidst COVID 19 Pandemic
COVID-19 is causing significant “disruption of services for the prevention and treatment of NCDs” in almost all countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s rapid assessment of service delivery for NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic, people who are over 60 years of age and people living with non communicable diseases (PLWNCDs), have a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.
Role of Civil Society Organizations in Fighting NCDs
Civil society organizations have been at the fore front to ensure affordable and accessible service delivery to patients affected by NCDs and other comorbidities. The focus and work of CSO’s aligns in seeing a world where everyone has equal opportunity to live healthy life free from the preventable conditions, stigma, disability and death caused by and associated with NCDs. As part of such a global network, the Africa NCDs Network (ANN); a coalition of legally recognized Civil Society NCD National Alliances and organizations whose major aims are to promote and accelerate the implementation of the NCD Agenda on the African Continent, is working together with partners to accelerate the implementation of NCD prevention and control in Africa through advocacy, capacity building, research and people centered approach.
The Africa NCDs Network (ANN)
As part of the global network, the Africa NCDs Network (ANN); a coalition of legally recognized Civil Societies and NCD National Alliances, is working together with partners to accelerate the implementation of NCD prevention and control in Africa through advocacy, capacity development, research and people power- ensuring that people are put first.
Embracing the Concept of Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs
In this light, the Africa NCDs Network has embraced the concept of Meaningful Involvement of People Living NCDs with the aim of actively and directly involving people living with NCDs during policy governance, planning, accountability and decision making process. Meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs is a critical element of an effective NCD response upon which People living with NCDs can contribute to many different facets such as awareness raising, research, advocacy, policymaking, programme planning and implementation, accountability. The Africa NCDs Network is leveraging the power of lived experiences and ensuring that People Living with NCDs are given priority. To achieve this, the organization has;
1.Raised the voice of People Living with NCDs: Through its work under “Our views, Our voices”, a project funded by NCD Alliance Global, the Africa NCDs Network has been able to proactively engage People Living with NCDs with the aim of amplifying their voices and protecting their right to health and participation during and post COVID-19.
2. Endorsing and Localizing the Global charter on Meaningful involvement of People Living with NCDs The organization has endorsed the Global Charter of Meaningful involvement of People Living with NCDs. Launched on Monday 6 September 2021, by NCD Alliance Global. The ANN was part and parcel of the detailed process that led to the completion of the charter. The charter rallies all actors such as governments, international institutions, civil society and the private sector to PLWNCDs in decisionmaking and ensuring a healthcare system that is resilient and able to support communities. The global charter has been endorsed by 51 organizations, in 26 countries in 5 regions. Currently, ANN is taking the initiative to localize the charter. The organization has conducted several discussions to reflect on the relevance of the charter and how best the African countries can incorporate the charter recommendations into their activity implementation plans. The organization has also used charter as a guiding principle when developing its strategic plan that will run from 2022- 2025 to ensure that People Living with NCDs are directly involved in the next 5 years of the fight against NCDs in Africa.
3. The Global Charter on Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs The Charter really aims at harnessing the value of lived experiences of People Living with NCDs in health policy, programming, and decision-making. Developed through extensive consultation with the NCD community around the world and stakeholders including governments, it seeks to:
1. Provide a shared understanding of meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs, its importance, key principles and strategies for implementation. Contribute to a growing knowledge base on meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs increasing; understanding of its impact as well as enablers and barriers to its advancement. Increase commitment to embed meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs in organizational practices, with governments, multilaterals, relevant private sector and civil society organizations called upon to publicly endorse and sign on to the Global Charter. Provide an accountability process on advancing meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs with periodic reporting required from endorsing organizations on actions undertaken, challenges faced and lessons learned in implementing the Global Charter.
4.A Case study on Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs in Decision Making process in Africa The ANN undertook a study on Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs in Decision Making process in Africa. The study that was conducted in eight (8) African countries namely; Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, aimed at understanding the best practices of meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs, Civil Society Organizations and community engagements in the decision making process at both national and regional level in Africa. The study was also geared towards drawing lessons and recommendations that could be used by stakeholders when engaging PLWNCDs in decision making processes.
Key Findings of the case studies:
• Meaningful Involvement of PLWNCDs in policy decisions is still minimal in several countries in Africa
• Regular interactions between people living with NCDs and policy makers are still lacking.
• There are ongoing advocacy efforts for better services and for meaningful involvement of PLWNCDs at both Regional and Nations level
• Tremendous efforts to launch the National Advocacy Agenda of people living with NCDs in some countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania has yielded commendable fruit and should be scaled up to other countries
• Countries are leveraging on the advocacy agendas to amplify the voices of people living with NCDs • Some countries like Kenya and Tanzania are well advanced in enhancing Meaningful Involvement of people living with NCDs in both program and policy decisions at national levels
• NCD support groups and networks as platforms for Meaningful Involvement have been developed.
• Partnerships and collaborations with CSOs and governments to deliberate on solutions (East African Countries)
• Advocating for inclusion of Meaningful Involvement in policy agenda (A country CSOs),
• PLWNCDs have been given platform to participate in policy/strategy/guideline development; NCD forum such as national health days, annual conferences; governance and coordination structures; national NCD working groups and taking on the leadership mantle in NCD network organizations
• Media has been very critical in amplifying the voices of PLWNCDs
• There is minimal support from the national and local leadership such as Governments-MPs, regional governors, senators, and local government representatives towards Civil Society Organizations that engage People Living with NCDs
The Network strongly advocates for regional engagement through its national alliances and a multi sectorial collaborative mechanism towards achieving its main agenda.
For more information, please contact the Africa NCDs Network Secretariat: email@example.com;