Non-Communicable Diseases

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<P>In every world region except sub-Saharan Africa, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now the single leading cause of mortality and morbidity, exerting a harsh personal and economic toll on families and governments.&nbsp; Despite the accelerating global NCD disease burden and evidence for the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of NCD prevention, early detection and treatment interventions, there is limited experience with high-impact NCD services in many low- and middle-income countries.</P>
<P>Improvement methods can pinpoint gaps in delivery of NCD services as a first step for planning the scale-up of “best buy” NCD interventions and helping primary and secondary level providers integrate key NCD screening and treatment practices into routine care.</P>

Improving reproductive health services by addressing gender issues in Ukraine

Megan Ivankovich

Senior Program Officer, WI-HER, LLC
Gender Training in Poltava, Ukraine

Participants in Poltava present Problem Trees and describe the causes and consequences of relevant public health issues

In October, I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine to support the USAID ASSIST Project to integrate gender into the work currently underway. ASSIST is working with the Ministry of Health in Ukraine to improve reproductive health services at the primary health care level by working specifically to decrease alcohol and tobacco use by pregnant women, to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies.

Males and females face different levels of susceptibility to health concerns based on their genetic makeup as well as on prevailing gender norms that influence behaviors and quality of health services. For example, 46% of women in Ukraine reported alcohol use in the most recent months of pregnancy, yet counseling on the reduction of alcohol use during pregnancy is insufficient since health providers often don’t consider women at risk because these behaviors have been historically associated with men and boys. In addition, exposure to environmental pollutants such as second-hand smoke can negatively impact the health of pregnant women and their babies.

Improving the quality of tobacco and alcohol cessation services for pregnant women

Elena Novichkova

Chief of Party, Ukraine, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy poses serious risks to the health and welfare of mothers and unborn babies. Preterm birth, developmental disabilities such as fetal alcohol syndrome, mental and growth retardation, low birth weight, and asthma and sudden infant death are some of the effects that drinking and smoking while pregnant have on babies.

The art of gender integration in non-communicable disease improvement activities

Taroub Faramand

Founder and President, WI-HER, LLC
The USAID HCI and ASSIST quality improvement teams at the 8th Learning Session held in Kutaisi, Georgia in February, 2014

The USAID HCI and ASSIST quality improvement teams at the 8th Learning Session held in Kutaisi, Georgia in February, 2014

Globally, there are disparities in the prevalence and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among men and women, and there is still a shortage of rigorously analyzed sex-disaggregated data related to NCDs, which makes it difficult to accurately determine the influence of gender-related factors on NCD morbidity and mortality and to establish the extent to which disparities in treatment exist.

A recent two-part series by CBS’s 60 Minutes, titled Sex Matters exposed the lack of sex-disaggregated medical data as a critical issue affecting heart disease diagnosis and other NCDs. This makes the work our USAID ASSIST team is doing to integrate gender into NCD services in the Republic of Georgia all the more innovative and meaningful. This past February I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia to work with Dr. Tamar Chitashvilli, ASSIST Chief of Party in Georgia, and her team, to provide technical assistance to integrate gender into the ASSIST-supported NCD program. I participated in a learning session, led a session to train participants on gender integration in NCD improvement activities, and developed recommendations for gender integration moving forward.