Strengthening NCD planning in Albania

In spring 2016, coordinators in Albania organized a working meeting to strengthen noncommunicable disease (NCD) planning in relation to the Government of Albania–United Nations Programme of Cooperation 2012–2016 and the country’s integrated, multisectoral NCD strategy. The objectives of the meeting were to discuss the current draft of the Programme and to collaborate with the NCD working group on the strategy and action plan.

The meeting involved WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Albania. Participants included international experts, national partners and stakeholders from the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Albanian Ministry of Health and the Albanian Institute of Public Health.

During their discussion of the Programme, participants highlighted the importance of collaboration with partners for the effective development and implementation of priority actions related to NCD prevention and control. They focused on the importance of having drivers to keep the process moving forward, on ways to organize intersectoral action and ensure commitment, and on the prioritization of actions.

During the session with the NCD working group, presenters outlined the current burden of NCDs in Albania and the activities in place to address this. The session resulted in an advanced draft of the NCD strategy, which includes an introduction, a situation analysis and a strategic framework with proposed priority actions related to prevention and control in the Albanian context.

WHO/Europe’s support for the meeting upheld the terms of its 2016–2017 biennial collaborative agreement with the Albanian Ministry of Health. The Russian Federation contributed NCD project funds to finance the initiative.
Health situation analysis

Recent decades have seen a steady increase in life expectancy for both men and women in Albania; in 2013, Albanian life expectancy at birth was 76.0 years for men and 80.3 years for women. The gender gap in life expectancy may be influenced by differences in risks associated with smoking, alcohol consumption and road accidents.

With an ageing population and the effective control of communicable diseases, NCDs are now more prominent in Albania’s epidemiological profile. The 2014 National Health Report shows an increasing overall incidence of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In response, the Ministry of Health has initiated programmes for early detection at the primary care level. Obesity is also on the rise in Albania, and figures from the WHO European Health for All database indicate that obesity-related health concerns and associated costs may be expected to rise in the future. In terms of external causes of death in Albania, road accidents remain the major killer.