Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) continues to be an actively collaborating partner for Zambia’s Ministry of Health (MOH). Besides serving on various technical working groups, mentorship and fostering strong relationships with healthcare staff to leading-edge implementation science, qualitative research, clinical trials, health systems strengthening and capacity-building; CIDRZ has been a key partner on some of the research work that has generated high-quality evidence to inform policy aimed at strengthening local and international healthcare.
Notably so, CIDRZ collaborated with MOH, to conduct a STEPS survey of Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) risk factors in Zambia. This study was conducted from July to September 2017.
STEPS is a system for surveillance of NCD risk factors designed for implementation in low and middle income countries. It is used to gather information on risk factors to help plan programmes and interventions, collect standardized risk factor data to enable comparisons, provide an entry point for low and middle income countries to get started on NCD surveillance and build capacity in countries.
The Principal Investigator (PI) for the study was Dr Wilbroad Mutale from the University of Zambia (UNZA) while CIDRZ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Roma Chilengi was a Co-PI of this population based survey, which target 4,302 adults aged 18 – 69.
Three steps were used in the survey to assess the different levels of risk factor:
Step One: collecting the socio-demographic and behavior information such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet (low fruit and vegetable consumption and high salt intake) and physical inactivity.
Step Two: collecting physical measurements such as height, weight and blood pressure, and
Step Three: collecting biomedical measurements to assess blood glucose and cholesterol levels under.
Study results show that “currently 12.3% adults smoke tobacco, 27.7% consume alcohol, 34.7% not engaged in vigorous activity and 21% of women aged 30 to 49 years have screened for cervical cancer”.
The survey found that 24% adults were obese, 19% reporting prevalence of raised blood pressure and only 7.2% reporting having visited a dentist in 12 months.
The survey recommends among other things:
- an increase of excise taxes and prices on tobacco products,
- consistence of the Policy on alcohol with a commitment to general increase excise taxes on alcoholic beverages in Zambia and
- the introduction and enforcement of laws to control salt amounts in food products being sold to the public.
In addition, the survey recommends wide public education and awareness for physical activity which supports physical activity champions targeted at encouraging women to increase physical exercises, cervical cancer awareness and community based awareness programmes, quick enactment of the Mental Health Bill to provide a legal framework for mental health interventions.
A repeat of the survey is planned to be conducted in 2022.
Read here for study design and results