Non-communicable Diseases in Ethiopia: Disease burden, gaps in health care delivery and strategic directions


AbstractIntroduction: In Ethiopia, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause 42% of deaths, of which 27% are premature deaths before 70 years of age. The Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) increased from below 20% in 1990 to 69% in 2015. With no action, Ethiopia will be the first among the most populous nations in Africa to experience dramatic burden of premature deaths and disability from NCDs by 2040. However, the national response to NCDs remains fragmented with the total health spending per capita for NCDs still insignificant.The focus of this paper is highlighting the burden of NCDs in Ethiopia and analyzing one of the two major WHO-recommended policy issues; the status of integrated management of NCDs, in Ethiopia. NCDs are complex conditions influenced by a range of individual, social and economic factors, including our perceptions and behavior. Also, NCDs tend to be easily overlooked by individuals and policy makers due to their silent nature. Thus, effectively addressing NCDs requires a fresher look into a range of health system issues, including how health services are organized and delivered.Methods: A mixed method approach with quantitative and qualitative data was used. Quantitative data was obtained through analysis of the global burden of diseases study, WHO-STEPs survey, Ethiopian SARA study and the national essential NCD drug survey. This was supplemented by qualitative data through review of a range of documents, including the national NCD policies and strategies and global and regional commitments.Results and discussion: In 2015, NCDs were the leading causes of age-standardized death rate (causing 711 deaths per 100,000 people (95% UI: 468.8–1036.2) and DALYs. The national estimates of the prevalence of NCD metabolic risk factors showed high rates of raised blood pressure (16%), hyperglycemia (5.9%), hypercholesterolemia (5.6%), overweight (5.2%) and Obesity (1.2%). Prevalence of 3-5 risk factors constituting a metabolic syndrome was 4.4%. Data availability on NCD morbidity and mortality is limited. While there are encouraging actions on NCDs in terms of political commitment, lot of gaps as shown by limited availability of resources for NCDs, NCD prevention and treatment services at the primary health care (PHC) level. Shortage of essential NCD drugs and diagnostic facilities and lack of treatment guidelines are major challenges. There is a need to re-orient the national health system to ensure recognition of the NCD burden and sustain political commitment, allocate sufficient funding and improve organization and delivery of NCD services at PHC level. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2018;32 (3):00-000]Key words: Non-communicable diseases, health-system re-orientation, NCD burden, metabolic risk factors, Service delivery, Primary Health Care