New World Bank Report: The Challenge of NCDs and Road Traffic Injuries in Sub-Saharan Africa

11th July 2013

The rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), diabetes mellitus, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases – poses a growing health challenge for Africa; this is compounded by the rise in road traffic injuries (RTIs). Yet, in contrast to communicable diseases, Africa’s epidemic of NCDs and RTIs remains largely hidden.

This new World Bank report approaches NCDs and RTIs within the context of existing work on communicable diseases and maternal and child health, to consider whether common challenges, drivers, and potential solutions provide opportunities to build on existing resources and experience and capitalize on their inter-linkages. It shows that effective, proven, cost-effective interventions to control NCDs and RTIs are available and possible – even in the region’s resource-constrained environment.

The report aims to answer four questions, drawing on a comprehensive review of the literature and on input from policy makers, researchers and practitioners: (1) How is the growing burden of NCDs and RTIs changing the epidemiology of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)? (2) What determines and drives this burden, and what are the commonalities with communicable diseases? (3) What is the rationale for public intervention? (4) How could resource-constrained governments approach NCD prevention and treatment and road safety in a comprehensive, effective and efficient way?

The report positions NCDs and RTIs as a key public health issue in Africa and calls for an integrated approach to tackling noncommunicable diseases alongside communicable diseases focusing on functions (prevention, treatment, and care) rather than on disease categories.