Non-communicable diseases

Vietnam has been undergoing an epidemiological transition: the overall morbidity and mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has been rising rapidly over the last two decades and it is becoming a dominant disease burden for society. Statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 2006 showed that morbidity from NCDs was over 2.5 times higher than that of infectious diseases (62% versus 24%). The changing epidemiology profile of the country can be attributed to increased life expectancy that invariably increases the risk of developing NCDs such as cancers and especially cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. CVD is now the leading cause of death in Vietnam, approximately three times higher than infectious and parasitic diseases, and accounted for nearly one-fifth of the total burden of disease in Vietnam in 2008.

Non-communicable diseases leave the country with a double financial burden, resulting from an already established high burden of infectious diseases, and at the same time, the escalating morbidity and mortality of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and especially cardiovascular. In addition, Vietnam has a very high injury burden, mainly as a result of road traffic injuries, prompting the concept of the triple burden of disease. It is seen that the long-term nature of many chronic conditions calls for a comprehensive and sustainable health systems response that brings together a trained workforce with appropriate skills, affordable quality services, medicines and technologies, and the empowerment of patients and communities. Moreover, these realties require the interplay of various factors such as changing lifestyles, the effects of economic development and urbanization, and the need for a multi-sectorial response.

PHAD, with its missions, will focus, amongst other things, on interventions targeting both the general population and individuals as follows:

- Developing a community-based intervention to empower general population and health workers at the primary level;
– Conducting a cluster-randomized trial to test the developed interventions;
– Study how to engage governments in partnerships for disease prevention;
– Doing prospective cohort studies to identify factors that reduce the risk of developing NCDs;
–Evaluating behavioral modifications to reduce risks;
– Investigating cultural and ethnic variations in risk factors to refine behavioral interventions; and
– Optimizing the use of electronic health records for predicting disease and measuring the effect of health interventions.

Project at PHAD: