BACKGROUND: Most low- and middle- income countries are facing a rise of the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) alongside the persistent burden of infectious diseases. This narrative review aims to provide an inventory of how the existing policy environment, health system, and communities are addressing the NCDs situation in Tanzania and identify gaps for advancing the NCD research and policy agenda.
METHODOLOGY: A literature search was performed on PubMed and Google scholar with full text retrieval from HINARI of English language articles published between 2000 and 2012. Documents were read to extract information on what Tanzanian actors were doing that contributed to NCDs prevention, treatment, and control, and a narration was written out of these. Reference lists of all retrieved articles were searched for additional relevant articles. Websites of organizations active in the field of NCDs including the Government of Tanzania and WHO were searched for reports and grey literature.
RESULTS: Lack of a specific and overarching NCD policy has slowed and fragmented the implementation of existing strategies to prevent and control NCDs and their determinants. The health system is not prepared to deal with the rising NCD burden although there are random initiatives to improve this situation. How the community is responding to these emerging conditions is still unknown, and the current health-seeking behavior and perceptions on the risk factors may not favor control of NCDs and their risk factors.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION: There is limited information on the burden and determinants of NCDs to inform the design of an integrative and multisectorial policy. Evidence on effective interventions for NCD services in primary care levels and on community perceptions on NCDs and their care seeking is virtually absent. Research and public health interventions must be anchored in the policy, health system, and community platforms for a holistic response.