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New paper offers recommendations to strengthen noncommunicable disease implementation in low- and middle-income countries

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new paper by researchers at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and health officials from Uganda, Kenya and the World Health Organization sets out a step-by-step process using specific implementation analyses to support ministries of health in low- and middle-income countries to create stronger, more implementable noncommunicable disease (NCD) plans.

The authors argue that strengthening the likelihood of national NCD plans being implemented and achieving their objectives is critical if the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, which aims for a one-third reduction in premature mortality from four major NCDs by 2030, is to be achieved.

“The ‘implementation gap’ is known in the international development community as the disconnect that can happen between national planning and successful implementation on the ground,” said Angie Jackson-Morris, Ph.D., a senior global health specialist in RTI’s Center for Global Noncommunicable Diseases and lead author of the paper. “Our paper outlines how implementation research can be applied in practice to guide and support national planning to address NCDs and thereby yield better results in preventing and reducing the growing burden of noncommunicable disease. We drew upon examples from a range of countries to illustrate how the proposed analytical process can provide policymakers and wider stakeholders with vital information to help them prioritize the most effective options, tailor their implementation to national capacities and ensure these are costed, budgeted and supported by financing options.”   

Specifically, the paper identifies a coherent step-by-step process to create stronger national implementation plans:

  1. Choose some (but not all) effective and cost-effective options
  2. Tailor interventions and their scale-up to national capacity
  3. Make priorities implementable

“Failure to make progress on noncommunicable diseases is sometimes ascribed solely to a lack of political will,” added Jackson-Morris. “Our analysis suggests that generating the specific information that stakeholders need to make more implementable plans would go a long way to helping countries strengthen their NCD delivery and as a consequence of this also help foster political will.” 

The paper was published in BMJ Global Health.

Read the full paper