Curbing the rise of noncommunicable diseases in Uganda: Perspectives of policy actors

Ankita Meghani, Charles Ssemugabo, George Pariyo, Adnan A. Hyder, Elizeus Rutebemberwa, Dustin G. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Uganda faces a complex policy landscape as it simultaneously addresses infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The health system has been overwhelmed by the growing burden of NCDs across all socioeconomic strata. In this study, we sought to understand the policy context around NCDs in Uganda, the roles of actors both within and external to the government, and the factors shaping the development and implementation of NCD policies and programs in Uganda. Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with 30 policy actors from the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH), nongovernmental organizations, and academia to understand the roles of different actors in the Ugandan NCD space, the programs and policy measures in discussion, and how to bridge any identified gaps. A thematic data analysis was conducted. Results: All national actors viewed funding constraints as a critical barrier to developing and executing an NCD strategic plan and as a barrier to leading and coordinating NCD prevention and control efforts in Uganda. The crowding of nongovernment actors was found to fragment NCD efforts, particularly due to the weak implementation of a framework for action among NCD actors. Relatedly, limited recruitment of technical experts on NCDs within the MOH was viewed to further diminish the government’s role in leading policy and program formulation and implementation. Though recent MOH efforts have aimed at addressing these concerns, some skepticism remains about the government’s commitment to increase budgetary allocations for NCDs and to address the technical and human resources gaps needed to achieve NCD policy aims in Uganda. Conclusions: This study highlights the immediate need to mobilize more resources, reduce fragmented efforts in the NCD space, and prioritize investment in NCD prevention and management in Uganda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Health Science and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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