Posted on 28 Nov, 2023 by Dr. Juma Khudonazarov

On November 14-15, 2023, GFA and partners including the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Public Health Centre of Ukraine organized an NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) National Form in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. This event was organized within the framework of the Act4Health project supported by SDC (Swiss Development Cooperation) - one of the longest and most significant investments to support Ukraine to reduce mortality and morbidity from NCDs and achieve its SDG goal. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the First Deputy Minister of Health, the Deputy Director of UPHC, the Head of WHO Ukraine, representatives of the World Bank, UNICEF, national NGOs and regional health administrations come together to discuss the problem of NCDs in Ukraine.  Around 200 participants from all parts of Ukraine attended the forum and discussed the problem of chronic health conditions, highlighting the importance of addressing NCDs in Ukraine. In a country where more resources are being diverted to war-related activities, many vulnerable people in remote areas are being left behind. This was the largest event ever organized in Ukraine to address NCDs . 

© GFA Ukraine is facing a triple threat: Full-scale war, COVID-19 and economic downturn, all of which have had a negative impact on the well-being of the Ukrainian population, particularly vulnerable groups who have difficulty accessing life-saving medicines. The full-scale war has had a devastating impact on the lives of the Ukrainian population, with many young people mobilized to the front or fleeing the country, and many vulnerable people with chronic health conditions left behind and struggling to cope with the current situation.

Due to the war, the Act4Health project established 10 mobile medical teams working in four regions. From April 2023 to October 2023, more than 38,000 people have access to health services in the most remote areas of Ukraine. In addition, the project has established eight home-based care teams in four target regions. More than 3,000 people have already received services in the last three months. The Act4Health project, coordinated by GFA, presented several innovative interventions on how to effectively manage noncommunicable diseases through a life course approach, involving multidisciplinary and multisectoral teams to address NCDs at different levels.

The home-based care model, implemented by OneHealth, attracted much attention, as this innovation has never been tested in Ukraine, where the social and health sectors work as an integrated team to reach more people with fewer resources. Millions of families are pushed into poverty each year when a member becomes too weak to work, or when the cost of medication and treatment overwhelms the family budget. Many NCDs are preventable if the lifecycle approach and lifestyle changes can be applied to minimize four risk factors: Smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

The cost-benefit analysis of NCD interventions conducted by GFA experts was of great interest to partners, and it was the first time that participants understood the health, social, economic and educational aspects of NCDs and how they are changing society. According to the study, for every US Dollar invested in NCDs, the return on investment is estimated at 22 USD, which is much higher than in many other countries. The various panels generated much discussions among stakeholders, touching on all aspects of NCD management, including community and self-management of NCDs, engagement with schools, and innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and telemedicine.

Ultimately, the National NCD Forum was a strong reminder of the urgent need for accelerated action to protect people today and tomorrow from NCDs and their causes: Smoking, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, excessive use of salt, sugar and trans fats.