Mongolia has one of the highest mortality rates due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) across the Western Pacific. Home to over three million people, Mongolia is facing a rising tide of NCDs. In 2018, around six in ten deaths were attributed to either cardiovascular disease (CVD, 34.4%) or cancer (24.6%) in 2018.
Recognising the critical importance of preventing and managing heart disease to health and development, the Government of Mongolia has approved a national ‘Sustainable Development Vision 2030’, setting a goal to reduce CVD mortality to 17.4 per 10,000 people by the end of 2020.
Primary care is an important entry point to reach this goal. In Mongolia, primary health facilities includes family, soum and village health centres, designed to respond to the unique geographic conditions of the country. However, it is widely recognised that existing resources will need more help to improve heart health. Stronger health system action is needed, but is held back by limited resources. As such, accelerating NCD responses that are community-based, patient-centred, long-term and sustainable is vital.
In Mongolia, cardiovascular diseases have been the single biggest cause of mortality, accounting for 34.4% of all deaths in 2018. Tertiary health facilities are overwhelmed with heart disease patients, whereas primary health centers lack the capacities – and sometimes simple yet necessary tools – to provide preventive care for conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
With WHO’s full technical support, Mongolia launched MongPEN at selected primary health centres in 2019. By implementing this comprehensive package at the primary health care level, we see great potential to reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases, and to strengthen the primary health care system in the country.
Despite the uncertainties of COVID-19, this work has supported the Mongolian Government Ministry of Health to not only upskill health centres to treat and manage NCDs now, but also provide the building blocks for a revolutionary new way to collect national NCD data. In the midst of a global pandemic, that is one positive to look forward to.