Realigning noncommunicable disease monitoring with health systems priorities in the Africa region

Chantelle Boudreaux, Devashri Salvi, Alma J. Adler, Emily B. Wroe, Matthew M. Coates, Maia Olsen, Yogesh Jain, Ana O. Mocumbi and Gene Bukhman

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The African region of the World Health Organization (WHO) recently adopted a strategy aimed at more comprehensive care for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the region. The WHO’s World Health Assembly has also newly approved several ambitious disease-specific targets that raise the expectations of chronic care and plans to revise and update the NCD-Global Action Plan. These actions provide a critically needed opportunity for reflection and course correction in the global health response to NCDs. In this paper, we highlight the status of the indicators that are currently used to monitor progress towards global goals for chronic care. We argue that weak health systems and lack of access to basic NCD medicines and technologies have prevented many countries from achieving the level of progress required by the NCD epidemic, and current targets do little to address this reality. We identify gaps in existing metrics and explore opportunities to realign the targets with the pressing priorities facing today’s health systems.