MOH commences training for Data Collectors on NCD
By Sulayman Waan
The Ministry of Health (MOH) in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank (WB) on Monday commenced a five-day training of health personnel on data collection for the 2023 STEPS survey at a local hotel in Kololi.
STEPS is a simple, standardized method for collecting, analysing and disseminating data on key Non Communicable Disease (NCD) risk factors in countries. The survey instrument covers key behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet as well as key biological risk factors: overweight and obesity, raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, and abnormal blood lipids.
The training aims to equip participants with the requisite knowledge and skills of data collection and supervision ahead of the survey to ensure successful assessment on the NCD risk factor in The Gambia.
It is alo meant to assess the prevalence of NCD risk factors in The Gambia. The NCD includes heart diseases and stroke, cancers, chronic lung diseases and diabetes.
Representing the Minister of Health, Muhamadou Lamin Jaiteh described the training as a significant milestone in the Gambia’s efforts to reduce the burden of NCD. He said NCD accounts for 34% of the country’s total annual mortality.
“The latest evidence at hand suggests that cardiovascular disease account for the highest proportion of NCD-related mortality, followed by cancers, chronic disease and diabetes. Other NCDs accounting for 14%, 4%, 2%, 1% and 12% respectively,” he said.
According to the 2010 WHO STEPS Survey in The Gambia, 15.6% of Gambian adults of aged 25-64 years smoked tobacco while 22.6% were not physically active. 1.2% drank alcohol and adults aged 20 years and above consumed about 8 grammes of salt per day, exceeding WHO recommended threshold of less than 5 grammes per day.
However, he said certainly Gambia’s socio-demographic profile changed over the years resulting in changes in the country’s lifestyles and context. He added that conducting another survey is a positive move.
He thanked WB for providing funds and logistics for the training and WHO for providing critical technical support.
Dr. Desta Tiruneh, WHO representative to The Gambia said training of data collection for the WHO STEPS Survey is a significant milestone in the fight against non- communicable diseases in The Gambia.
“Given its importance, the WHO deems it fit to bring in seasoned experts in this area to support The Gambia achieve this goal,” he said.
He noted that the world’s biggest public health challenge is currently the increasing burden of NCDs- mainly heart diseases and stroke, cancers, chronic lung diseases and diabetes, noting that these diseases are responsible for over 71% of global deaths.
“It is also common knowledge that these are fuelled by four main risk factors including tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and harmful use of alcohol. Notwithstanding, indoor air pollution, arising from the use of solid fuel is also becoming a public problem particularly in low- and middle- income countries,” he said.
He said the training will provide The Gambia with requisite evidence to better understand the true picture of NCD risk factors.
He assured that WHO will provide the necessary technical support to government to ensure smooth implementation of the survey.
Fatoumatta Dibba, deputy director of Health Service said: “There is an urgent need to build capacities and produce evidence that will help to inform national policies and strategies against the NCD burden thus the need to conduct this survey.”