The Center for Integration Science in Global Health Equity participated in an Africa CDC/African Union workshop, “Non-Communicable Diseases, Injuries, and Mental Health Surveillance: Situational Analysis and Peer Learning,”from 24 to 28July in Ghana.
Ministry of Health leaders in noncommunicable diseases and injuries (NCDI), mental health (MH) and surveillance from six countries¬—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone—attended the meeting.
Africa CDC/African Union is working to create a guidance document for assessing, developing, and implementing surveillance of noncommunicable diseases and injuries and mental health (NCDI/MH) for the continent. The Ghana workshop was the second one Africa CDC/African Union hosted to inform the development of the guidance document; the earlier one was held in Zambia.
Dr. Emmanuel Mensah, managing director of the Center for Integration Science and the West Africa regional advisor for the NCDI Poverty Network, helped facilitate the Ghana workshop in his role as a member of the high-level advisory committee on NCDI/MH for Africa CDC/African Union . He noted that the workshop was designed to:
• enable country-specific insights into the strengths and weaknesses of NCDI and mental health national surveillance activities;
• foster peer learning on NCDI and mental health surveillance among countries;
• support countries in their development of action points to strengthen the integration of national NCDI and mental health surveillance;
• cultivate awareness and collaboration among stakeholders to strengthen NCDI and mental health surveillance; and
• help boost the implementation of relevant infrastructure and governance for NCDI and mental health surveillance.
As part of the workshop, member state representatives completed a self-assessment of their surveillance program using tools that the Africa CDC/African Union NCDI team developed in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in Germany. Participants also visited the Center for Health Information Management System at the Ghana Health Service and the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
“Public health surveillance is essential to monitor the burden of NCDIs,” said Dr. Mensah. “Such surveillance provides information required to help policymakers, researchers, and implementers make relevant decisions. Noncommunicable diseases and intervention surveillance across Africa Union member states has been challenging because of a lack of prioritization, inadequate funding, a shortage of trained personnel, and difficulty integrating with current health information systems.”
“This work will give member states the necessary tools to build and sustain efficient surveillance systems for NCDIs and mental health,” Dr. Mensah concluded.