NIGERIA — The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has unveiled the National Task-Shifting and Task-Sharing (NTSTS) Policy in Nigeria, focusing on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

This policy, if adopted, will complement the existing Task-Shifting and Task-Sharing Policy for Essential Health Care Services.

Dr. Anyaike Chukwuma, Director of Public Health, shared the news during the 64th National Council on Health (NCH) technical session in Ado-Ekiti.

The NCH, a vital policy-making body in Nigeria’s health sector, serves as a platform for health leaders, including permanent secretaries, commissioners of health, heads of parastatals, and directors, to collaboratively address health-related issues.

Dr. Chukwuma highlighted that the NTSTS Policy, if adopted, would complement the existing Task-Shifting and Task-Sharing Policy for Essential Health Care Services.

Annually, the National Conference on Health (NCH) convenes to deliberate on strategies for enhancing the country’s health sector and approving impactful policies aimed at advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The NTSTS Policy is specifically designed to tackle the increasing burden of NCDs by decentralizing comprehensive prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment, and rehabilitation services to primary healthcare (PHC) facilities.

Dr. Chukwuma emphasized the policy’s reliance on multi-sectoral collaboration, curriculum revision, and continuous training and supervision of PHC workers to effectively prevent and control prioritized NCDs in Nigeria.

Implementing the NTSTS Policy aligns with the country’s commitment to adopting a patient-centered approach, accelerating progress toward NCD prevention and control, achieving universal health coverage, and working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Chukwuma stated, “This policy is a critical step in combating the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases at the primary healthcare level.”

The director underscored several key benefits of the policy, including early detection and timely treatment of simple, uncomplicated NCDs.

By delegating tasks to PHC workers, the NTSTS Policy aims to reduce the need for costly treatments at higher healthcare levels, enhancing resource efficiency.

Task shifting will empower available human resources for health to address the emerging burden of chronic diseases, saving lives and enabling physicians to focus on high-risk cases.

As NCDs claim 41 million lives globally each year, with 27% of annual deaths occurring in Nigeria, the NTSTS Policy is a strategic move to strengthen primary healthcare systems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends devolving NCD care to primary healthcare facilities through task-shifting and task-sharing strategies.

This approach enhances NCD management, reduces workload, and improves patient satisfaction, reflecting a crucial step in transforming Nigeria’s healthcare landscape.

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