WiRED Launches Module on Understanding Noncommunicable Diseases

A Guide to Community Preparedness for Community Health Workers


WiRED International just released a module on understanding noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), written especially as a guide for community health workers (CHWs).


What are NCDs? These are chronic diseases (see sidebar) that do not pass from person to person, tend to be of long duration and result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors.


This module offers an overview of the major NCDs, their risk factors, metabolic factors (such as raised blood pressure), prevention and control, screening procedures and treatment. Modifiable risk factors include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, harmful alcohol use and air pollution. Nonmodifiable factors include age, gender, race and family history (genetics).


Poverty is closely linked with NCDs, so people in underserved regions suffer the most. How best to reach these communities? In contrast to doctors and nurses, CHWs are often closer to underserved populations and can build greater trust to motivate prevention practices among the people in their communities. WiRED believes that properly trained CHWs are essential in the global prevention and control of NCDs worldwide, especially where medical care is scarce.





The Five Main Types of NCDs

The World Health Organization calls these main types of NCDs the world’s greatest killers because they affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people and collectively account for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide, primarily in low- and middle-income countries.

  • Cardiovascular disease (such as heart attacks and stroke)
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma)
  • Mental health issues



WiRED’s Community Health Worker Training Program

Physician density varies widely among countries, with around 500 doctors per 100,000 people at the high end and 3 per 100,000 at the low end. The lowest physician counts are usually found in the poorest regions of Africa, parts of the Middle East, South Asia and segments of Latin America. With doctors and nurses absent or scarce, people are left alone to heal the sick, deliver children and address chronic illnesses, all with skills uninformed by effective medical practices.


CHW services are wide and varied and differ from place to place. A lingering problem is how to train CHWs with a standard curriculum while adapting to local differences in health conditions, cultural norms, government requirements and resource availability.


We are now developing the curriculum and we will soon research a comprehensive CHW training program for low-resource communities. It will provide an adaptable CHW training program that offers a core curriculum augmented by tools to meet local needs. Further, it will provide a continuing health education program, enabling CHWs to stay abreast of current trends and to remain informed if outbreaks should occur.



Quiz Taken from WiRED’s Understanding Noncommunicable Diseases Module

1. _________ refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning.

 a. Metabolic
 b. Tectonic
 c. Nucleonic
 d. Metastatic

2. More than 85% of premature deaths (those occurring between the ages of 30 and 69 years) are estimated to occur where?

 a. In high-income countries
 b. In low- and middle-income countries
 c. In Asia
 d. In North America

3. High blood pressure is sometimes called what?

 a. Hyperbole
 b. Myalgia
 c. Hypertension
 d. Pneumothorax

4. A BMI score of ___ or more indicates obesity.

 a. 22
 b. 25
 c. 28
 d. 30

5. ___________ is one of the most common types of chronic lung disease.

 a. Asthma
 b. Influenza
 c. Malaria
 d. Whooping cough



You can download the module mentioned in this story, and all 400+ of WiRED’s health modules, through WiRED’s Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP) by clicking here. This easy-to-use free program will enable you to create your own customized collection of health learning modules. You can learn more about HealthMAP through WiRED's animation.









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