In June 2023, Ghana will conduct a comprehensive nationwide survey to establish a baseline on the prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) across the country. The survey, known as the WHO-STEPS survey, aims to provide accurate information to better guide planning, monitoring, and evaluation efforts at NCD prevention. The survey will be conducted in all 16 regions and cover a sample size of 5775 in 385 enumeration areas.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have partnered to organize a five-day workshop for data collectors who will be involved in the survey. The workshop will offer training on the best ways to derive information on the risk factors of NCDs among the public. The United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (UK-FCDO) is funding the workshop.
The survey will measure and reduce the severity of risk factors such as unhealthy lifestyles, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, and physical inactivity, which are associated with NCDs. The prevalence of unhealthy lifestyles, including tobacco use and alcohol consumption, is highest in the middle belt of Ghana and significantly contributes to the prevalence of NCDs.
The lack of access to healthcare services and inadequate public health interventions have worsened the burden of NCDs in the middle belt. Therefore, the survey aims to develop strategies and interventions to control NCDs and encourage the public to check their health status regularly.
The survey will provide crucial information to guide decision-making and better address NCDs’ risk factors. It will also offer an opportunity to control NCDs as Ghana strives to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
For the most part, NCDs have changed the world over the last 20 years and become the leading cause of death in most countries, resulting in 200 million premature deaths among people aged between 30 to 70 years in developing countries. In Africa, both communicable and non-communicable diseases cause deaths at high rates.
The survey will involve three stages of data collection, including data collection on demographics and housing information, diet, physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, history of blood pressure, diabetes, history of total cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, lifestyle advice, breast cancer screening of women, mental and oral health. The survey will also take onsite blood and urine samples to test for various health conditions.
In a nutshell, the WHO-STEPS survey will provide essential information to better understand the prevalence of NCDs in Ghana and develop strategies to mitigate the risks.