Posted by: ihfgeneva | April 8, 2013

Strengthening Self-care of Non-Communicable Diseases.

In the midst of the World Health Day, the International Hospital Federation participated in the “Dialogue on Strengthening Self-Care of Non-Communicable Diseases” that took place at the World Health Organization´s Headquarters in Geneva, and that was convened by Dr. Shanti Mendis, Director of Non-Communicable Diseases at WHO.

The IHF was represented by Dr. Paul Dugdale, Director of the Centre for Health Stewardship at the Australian National University and Australian representative on the Governing Board of the Asian Hospital Federation.

The purpose of the roundtable dialogue was to strengthen the involvement of health related NGOs in the international consultations around the topic of self-care (specifically on NCDs); a topic that was defined as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease and maintain health and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health care provider”.

Self-care of chronic diseases is recognised as an important direction for all countries to pursue as they develop their health systems to meet the challenge of non-communicable diseases. However, this development will require, greater than ever, the cooperation between government, commercial and non-government organisations.

Dr. Dugdale, in behalf of IHF, argued that in the field of NCDs, there should be no sole focus on prevention without addressing the conditions of those suffering from chronic and multi-chronic conditions.

IHF called on WHO to continue to recognize and promote the connections between hospitals, primary care and community organizations. In addition to providing referral services and care planning for people with multi chronic conditions, hospital information capabilities can track patients who are self-caring and their educational resources can support community organizations efforts to encourage self-care of NCDs.

A call for research was made on optimizing the formal monitoring of NCDs for people who are largely self-caring and integrating patient life-goals into chronic disease management protocols.

A special emphasis was made by IHF in the urgent need to research the forms of organizational support for self care and to understand better how payment systems can reimburse hospitals and referral based health professionals for patient education, preventive health and follow-up management.

The IHF, along with others, backed up WHO’s proposal to create an international network to support self-care for people with multi morbid chronic conditions. Such a network could cross-fertilize efforts to support self-care between researchers, service providers and community level organizations.

Activities of the network could include the following:

  • Provide country and district level input into how primary care and referral service development (including sub-acute care services) can support and enhance self-management for NCDs.
  •  Foster community development that supports self-management for NCDs, for example through the evolution of volunteering structures within the post-retirement community and encouragement of community level self-help organizations.

Lastly, at the dialogue, the importance of health literacy was discussed. Dr.Dugdale specially pointed the need to support critical health literacy, where patients are not seen only as passive subjects but means to organize other patients and communities to empower a responsive health system, where patients can learn about the disease and manage it themselves. This is essential to re-orient the health system toward increasing support for self-care.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Mendis drew attention to the forthcoming Global NCD Action Plan, and noted that Hospitals, as central health service providers in all countries, have an important role in providing support for self-care of NCDs.


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