The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 23 percent of all deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa are from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and these are projected to grow to 27 percent by 2020. The rise in NCDs in Africa places a tremendous social and economic burden on communities. Increased urbanization, rising poverty, weak health systems, weak policy guidelines, poor health seeking behaviour and socio-cultural factors pose challenges for NCDs prevention, management and control in sub-Saharan Africa. Complications arising from multi-morbidity, multiple chronic conditions and co-morbidity with infectious diseases create further challenges that affect men and women, young and old, and rural and urban populations disproportionately across different regions and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In spite of this, there is lack of reliable data on epidemiological distribution and rising prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. The rise of NCDs threatens to halt or roll back progress made in health and development of sub-Saharan Africa, especially among adolescents and young people. The focus on NCDs is important given that Africa has the World’s youngest population, and a rapidly expanding adolescent and youth population, estimated at 360 million, with about 120 million or a-third between 10-14 years.
The ARUA Center of Excellence on NCDs
The ARUA Centre of Excellence for NCDs (ACE-NCD) is one of the thirteen ARUA Centres of Excellence. ACE-NCD is hosted by the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and is made up of five African Universities among them, the University of Nairobi, Makerere University in Uganda, University of Ghana, University of Ibadan in Nigeria and University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. ACE-NCD comprises of an international network of researchers across Africa and the rest of the World. ACE-NCD seeks to support research capacity building in the five partner African universities and the less research intensive universities in Africa to address Africa’s complex burden of NCDs through collaborative trans-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research groups across Africa and beyond.
The ARUA Centre of Excellence for NCDs seeks to strengthen NCD training and research capacity building of young scholars spanning from the medical and health sciences, public health, engineering, basic sciences, social sciences and humanities. In addition, the Centre will mount short courses, both face-to-face and online, focusing on broad NCD thematic areas; support research teams to secure research funding to enable them undertake research and dissemination; and leverage on unique and collective strengths of its partners to become the focal point for NCD research in Africa.
Thematic Research Areas
The Centre’s research areas are framed around three broad thematic areas.
- Prevention – nutrition, substance abuse and mental health, indoor and outdoor air quality, hypertension, and policy development and communication; models of prevention and care.
- Early Detection and Control – mechanistic research, multi-morbidity of chronic diseases and infection, bio-banking and biomarkers, and with a focus on cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), and chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs).
- Big Data for Evidence-Based Decision Making – data and trend analysis for the risk factors using a life course approach especially focusing on adolescents and youth.
In addition, cross-cutting research areas shall include -gender; education and mentorship; communication and research dissemination; engagement with public and industry.
Conduct research, build capacity and disseminate findings that will address the rising problem of NCDs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the region.
Develop scientific evidence required to inform NCDs policies; promote NCDs prevention, management and control; and engage with communities.
The overall objective of ACE-NCD is to develop and support NCD research and capacity building training on NCDs prevention and management in Sub-Saharan Africa and guide NCDs policy formulation.
This objective will be achieved through the following specific objectives.
Objective 1: Development of continental multi-disciplinary research programmes
The ACE-NCD will support securing of competitive grants to facilitate formation of robust research teams among ACE-NCD faculty, enabling them to establish continental-wide research programmes around NCDs. The Centre will support multidisciplinary research and small pilot projects on cardiovascular diseases (CVD), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes and co-morbidity with NCDs; mental health; socio-cultural and behavioural research. The Centre will also support organisation and hosting of regional workshops, seminars and conferences to strengthen research teams and disseminate research findings.
Objective 2: Establishment of a training research and mobility programme
Build research and human capacity in NCDs in Africa through development of an NCD research and training mobility programme. The programme will include short study visits and stays (sandwich programmes, faculty and student exchanges) at partner universities in Africa and around the world universities.
Objective 3: Development of an NCD research and data repository for Africa.
Establish and maintain an NCD one-stop data repository on ongoing continental level NCD research. This will enable students, researchers, policy makers and practitioners across Africa to find ongoing projects within their own countries, request raw data for additional analysis and writing publications; identify opportunities for collaboration; and get information to guide NCD policies and programmes development.
Objective 4: Hold annual International NCD Symposium
This will enable NCD researchers of high international repute, promising research students, private sector, industry, policy and academia to come together and discuss NCD health issues of relevance to Africa; and interact with universities outside Africa, African governments, industry and NGOs.
If you would like to find out more about the ARUA NCD ACE and ways to work with us, please contact:
University of Nairobi
Dr Anne Kamau, ACE-NCD, Director
Dr. Richard Ayah, ACE-NCD, Deputy Director
University of Ghana
Prof. Michael Wilson
Prof. Charles Ibingira
University of Ibadan
Prof. Mayowa Owolabi
University of the Witwatersrand
Prof. Maria Papathanasopoulos