Key findings of consultation on monitoring noncommunicable diseases released

As part of the development of a comprehensive global monitoring framework for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), WHO/Europe held a web-based consultation to determine European Member States’ capacity to monitor the proposed voluntary targets and global indicators: 40 countries took part. This revealed new information on the surveillance capacity of the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region, as it included results from WHO’s 2010 global survey of country capacity for NCD prevention and control.

The next step will be a formal consultation in November.

Findings

The main findings on country capacity fall under several headings: mortality, behavioural risk factors (including diet), intermediate risk factors, disaggregation and process. Countries are discussed as three groups: EUR-A (27 countries with very low child and adult mortality), EUR-B (17 countries with low child and adult mortality) and EUR-C (9 countries with low child but high adult mortality).

There is universal capacity to report on mortality, and thus set baselines for and monitor progress towards the global target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs.

Countries have high capacity for monitoring four behavioural risk factors (from highest to lowest capacity): tobacco, alcohol, diet and physical inactivity. EUR-B+C countries reported lower capacity than EUR-A countries, but over three quarters of Member States are able to monitor all four factors.

The question on diet did not distinguish between different components of the diet (such as salt, saturated fat, trans fats), but countries reported high capacity to monitor unhealthy diets in general.

On average, capacity to monitor intermediate risk factors is lower. Capacity was greatest for overweight in EUR-A countries, and for blood pressure in EUR-B+C. Blood lipids were the only risk factor monitored in less than half of EUR-B+C countries. In addition, the low capacity for measuring some intermediate risk factors was cited as a cost issue.

The capacity to disaggregate NCD data is rare in the European Region, despite multiple statements (in the qualitative comments) on the importance of indicators to assess inequity and measure social determinants. Only a small minority of Member States claims to have strong capacity for disaggregation.

The qualitative comments made a united call for: reuse of existing data, consistency with existing datasets, the adoption of a minimal number of indicators and little-to-no collection of new data.

European input to the global process

The web-based consultation was an intermediate step, aiming to maximize European Member States’ input to the global process. The formal consultation with Member States and United Nations agencies, to complete work on the development of the global monitoring framework and targets for NCDs, is planned for 5–7 November 2012, in Geneva, Switzerland.