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October 01, 2023
Launching the Non-Communicable Diseases Capacity Assessment and Planning e-Learning Training Course

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of death worldwide, especially affecting low- and middle-income countries. The burden of NCDs is a challenge that cannot be tackled in isolation. Collaboration and strategic planning are imperative to make meaningful progress. To that end, the NCD Capacity Assessment and Planning (N-CAP) Process was developed as an innovative tool to enhance countries' efforts in addressing NCDs.

 

The N-CAP Process was launched by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), and Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) during a one-hour Webinar on Monday, September 25, 2023.

 

The webinar provided an overview of the N-CAP Process which was developed jointly by the CDC, EMPHNET, and the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI). The session featured four subject matter experts namely: the Director of TEPHINET, Dr. Carl Reddy; the Chief of U.S. CDC Office of Noncommunicable Diseases; Dr. Patricia Richter; Director of EMPHNET’s Center of Excellence for Applied Epidemiology, Dr. Yousef Khader; and EMPHNET’s Senior Technical Specialist, Dr. Randa Saad.

 

Dr. Reddy initiated his talk by addressing the global burden of NCDs, and the significant challenges they pose to public health. He also introduced the N-CAP Process as a tool that supports countries to assess, prioritize, and plan how to better address NCDs. He highlighted that this Process is not intended to address specific diseases, but rather to look at collective efforts and available capacities to address NCDs.

 

The second speaker, Dr. Richter stated that this comprehensive tool is intended to help ministries of health and other key stakeholders in assessing, prioritizing, and planning the enhancement of their national capacity to combat NCDs and improve overall population health. This process is driven by the Ministry of Health and is structured to engage diverse stakeholders, fostering collaboration to drive sustainable and impactful progress. She also introduced the N-CAP Process Facilitator and Recorder Training Course, which is a self-lead e-learning course that is designed to educate regional public health networks and national public health institutes about the N-CAP Process by building their capacity to promote and use the materials properly and effectively. The course strives to train N-CAP facilitators and recorders on the activities, procedures, and best practices on how to collaborate with the Ministry of Health and conduct the N-CAP Process in their country.

 

From his end, Dr. Khader shed light on the three N-CAP Process activities, including Stakeholder Mapping, the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Workshop, and the N-CAP Workshop. He discussed how the stakeholder mapping involves identifying and categorizing relevant stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem, which lays the groundwork for effective collaboration and resource allocation. He also highlighted that the SWOT Workshop involves a comprehensive analysis of the NCD landscape, and how It helps stakeholders understand the current state of NCD initiatives, uncover potential bottlenecks, and identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, he emphasized that the N-CAP Workshop brings together all stakeholders to develop a concrete plan for NCD capacity building. By aligning efforts and resources, countries can develop robust strategies for tackling NCDs and improving population health.

 

Dr. Khader also went over the N-CAP Process materials, including the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), discussion guides, and reports, and he highlighted the key roles and responsibilities of the different involved entities, including the Ministries of Health.

 

This was followed by Dr. Saad, who elaborated on the learnings gained from N-CAP Process implementation within the Eastern Mediterranean Region, specifically in Jordan, Iraq, and Pakistan. She explained the initial steps taken in conducting NCDs stakeholder mapping and analysis, while emphasizing how the results of this process served as valuable insights for participants in the subsequent SWOT and N-CAP workshops.

 

It was also then highlighted that as each of the N-CAP activities is led by trained facilitators, the N-CAP Process Facilitator and Recorder Training Course was developed through the joint efforts of the CDC, EMPHNET, IANPHI, and TEPHINET. The N-CAP Process materials are also now readily available and free to access as downloadable files. These materials include SOPs for each activity, report templates, workshop forms, and other documents that are helpful for implementing the N-CAP Process. A library of Discussion Guides is also available.

 

The presentations were followed by Q&A session, where participants and panelists engaged in the discussion. This webinar was attended by a broad spectrum of public health organizations, including regional public health networks and national public health institutes. It presented an opportunity for countries to learn about this innovative tool, share experiences, and join hands to address the growing threat of NCDs. The N-CAP Process, with its meticulous approach and comprehensive activities, is a beacon of hope in the fight against NCDs. Together, we can work towards a healthier, more resilient world, where NCDs are no longer the leading cause of death.