Health workers perspectives on screening for early detection of diet related risk factors for NCDS during routine health care visits
Objective: An increase in the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in LMNCs is alarming and a call for integrated approach to prevent and manage them using existing opportunities and resources. Health care facilities are presented with such unique opportunities to identify risk factors and preventive services for NCDs
and health workers are at its center stage if they understand their roles. This study aimed to understand how health care workers (HCWs) perceived their roles in addressing risk factors associated with diet related NCDs and identifying support required to manage them in the context of fast growing burden of NCDs in Dar es salaam, Tanzania.
Methods: A qualitative approach using in-depth interviews was employed to address this study’s objectives. A total of 15 healthcare workers were interviewed from all three regional hospitals in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. Data were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using content analysis approach.
Results: Opportunities were not utilized to screen for NCDs in health facilities in Dar es Salaam despite their availability. Health felt they had a role in screening and providing health education and counselling to address risk factors associated NCDs. If they are adequately trained, health workers were willing to assess and educate patients on NCD within the time available when they attend for other illnesses. They believed that more time should be spent on prevention of NCDs. In meeting this obligation it is important to address several challenges including heavy workload, inadequacy of working tools and supplies, and poor and non-integrated preventive and curative care.
Conclusion: Opportunity to assess, prevent, and manage diet related NCD is available in health facilities in Dar es Salaam. Integrated NCD preventive care can be realized if pertinent challenges including heavy workload, inadequacy of working tools & supplies, and absence of policy on mandatory integrations of preventive and curative care are addressed
Keywords: Non-Communicable Diseases, integrated care, health workers, diet, risk factors