DILI, 13 october 2023 (TATOLI) – World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), and the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) launched the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Risk Factor and Health Facility Readiness Survey.
In his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, WHO Representative in Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur said that Timor-Leste needed new, science-backed insights on NCDs and their risk factors to assess the impact of the past actions and investments and plan for future interventions.
“Our NCD Risk Factor Survey follows WHO’s STEPwise approach, a streamlined and standardized method for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating critical data on key NCD risk factors,” said Mathur at the launching ceremony of the NCDs Risk Factor and Health Facility Readiness Survey, in Dili, on thursday.
This survey delves into essential behavioral risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets, as well as vital biological risk factors, such as overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, and abnormal blood lipids, according to Mathur.
“The knowledge we gain from this survey won’t just help us track trends within our country; it will empower us to draw valuable comparisons with other nations too,” he said.
This second NCD Risk Factor Survey offers Timor-Leste the chance to consolidate data on vital nutrition and diet-related indicators and address the country’s existing data gaps.
“We’ve enhanced the survey with urine iodine, urine sodium, and urine creatinine tests, a noteworthy step forward made possible with the support of the National Health Laboratory and our technical partner, Mahidol University in Thailand.”
NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, and impose a major and growing burden on health and development globally, in the Southeast Asia Region and in Timor-Leste.
Mathur stressed that NCDs are among the leading causes of death and accounted for 53% of all deaths in 2019, most of which include premature deaths. Stroke and Ischemic heart disease were the top two causes of death in 2019.
“Timor-Leste’s demographic landscape is characterized by a youthful majority, with approximately 72% of our population below the age of 35,” said Mathur. “This places a significant portion of our people, those most exposed to NCD risk factors, within the very age groups essential for our nation’s productivity. Thus, NCDs not only threaten our public health but also represent a developmental challenge for Timor-Leste.”
The data will assist the government, especially the Ministry of Health to make informed decisions and implement evidence-based strategies to reduce the burden of NCDs, enhance the quality of healthcare services, and improve the overall well-being of Timorese citizens.
Deputy Minister for Institutional Strengthening in Health, José dos Reis Magno, extended his deepest appreciation to the numerators who led the data collection.
Magno said that it has been eight years since the last survey was carried out in 2014, saying therefore the launch of the NCDs Risk Factor and Health Facility Readiness Survey is essential to update the data.
“The updated data is essential for the Health Ministry to implement its programs aimed at preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases in Timor-Leste,” said Minister Magno.
The two-month survey is scheduled to be completed by mid-December this year.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Filomeno Martins