Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for about 60 percent of deaths around the world every year. In Ukraine they account for almost 90 percent. The country has one of the highest cardiovascular disease mortality rates in Europe. Some 30 percent of men who die in Ukraine from NDCs are under 60. Factors include tobacco consumption (30 percent of the adult population smoke everyday), unhealthy eating, lack of exercise and alcohol abuse. Underdeveloped family medicine contributes to this situation in Ukraine as it plays an important role in the prevention and early detection of NCDs. The armed conflict in the east of the country has aggravated the problems.
Through the project "Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion in Ukraine", which was launched in 2015 with the World Health Organization (WHO) and is expected to run until 2022, the SDC is helping reduce morbidity and mortality from NCDs. It hopes to reduce mortality from NCDs by at least 25% by 2020. However, political instability and the armed conflict in Ukraine are a major challenge for the implementation of the project.
Less tobacco and alcohol advertising
To this end, the project provides for the creation of a national action plan to lower the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products through financial incentives, and new laws that restrict the advertising and marketing of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food. The project also seeks to strengthen family medicine, primarily with the help of a WHO action plan. Specific measures include education and training for medical staff.
Prevention is also vital to reach the goals: Other projects implemented by the SDC in Ukraine are putting responsible attitudes to addictive substances and stimulants on the curricula of primary and secondary schools in partnership with the Ukrainian authorities and international organisations such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Ukrainian-Swiss "Mother and Child Health Program".
The project runs at national level and in selected pilot regions. In three of these regions, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, there are a large number of internally displaced persons who have fled the armed conflict in the east of the country and are at increased risk for NCDs.