Low- and middle-income countries’ health systems ill-prepared for NCDs

In a new study appearing in the August issue of Health Affairs, Corrina Moucheraud of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health evaluated five low- and middle-income countries' readiness to handle the growing burden caused by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The study, using 2013-15 data collected by the Demographic and Health Surveys Program, examined service availability and readiness for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory disease in Bangladesh, Haiti, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania. According to the author, both factors were found to be very low in all five countries, despite their governments having existing policies to provide NCD care throughout their health systems. Shortages of trained health workers and essential medicines proved to be critical barriers to readiness. "This study indicates that these countries' health systems are not well equipped to address [the NCD] burden," Moucheraud says. She suggests new opportunities for policymakers to consider, including multisectoral partnerships, such as those previously undertaken to combat communicable diseases like malaria and AIDS. Medicines' procurement, regulation, and supply; financing and marketing of services; and contracting with and training providers are areas in which the private sector might be constructively engaged to address NCDs, Moucheraud concludes.

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Also of interest in the August issue–a related People & Places report: Unleashing New Data On Health System Readiness; Margaret Saunders, Health Affairs deputy editor

Health Affairs is the leading peer-reviewed journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published monthly by Project HOPE, the journal is available in print, online, and on mobile phones. Additional and late-breaking content is found at http://www.healthaffairs.org.

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