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Developing effective chronic disease interventions in Africa: insights from Ghana and Cameroon

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8603-6-6

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A review of chronic disease research, interventions and policy in Ghana and Cameroon instructed by an applied psychology conceptual framework. Data included published research and grey literature, health policy initiatives and reports, and available information on lay community responses to chronic diseases.There are fundamental differences between Ghana and Cameroon in terms of 'multi-institutional and multi-faceted responses' to chronic diseases. Ghana does not have a chronic disease policy but has a national health insurance policy that covers drug treatment of some chronic diseases, a culture of patient advocacy for a broad range of chronic conditions and mass media involvement in chronic disease education. Cameroon has a policy on diabetes and hypertension, has established diabetes clinics across the country and provided training to health workers to improve treatment and education, but lacks community and media engagement. In both countries churches provide public education on major chronic diseases. Neither country has conducted systematic evaluation of the impact of interventions on health outcomes and cost-effectiveness.Both Ghana and Cameroon require a comprehensive and integrative approach to chronic disease intervention that combines structural, community and individual strategies. We outline research and practice gaps and best practice models within and outside Africa that can instruct the development of future interventions.Africa faces an urgent but 'neglected epidemic' of chronic disease [1,2]. In many countries disability and death rates due to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and stroke have accelerated over the last two decades. Affected populations include urban and rural, wealthy and poor, old and young. Africa's chronic disease burden has been strongly attributed to changing behavioural practices (e.g sedentary lifestyles and diets high in saturated fat, salt and sugar), which are linked to structural factors such as industrializ

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