About 90% of all deaths in Belarus are caused by non-communicable diseases (of which 63% account for cardiovascular diseases, 14% - for cancer, etc.). Thus non-communicable diseases are a heavy burden for the country.
In Belarus there is still a significant difference in life expectancy between men and women which for the past two decades is 10-12 years. Moreover, the gap in life expectancy between rural and urban residents is even higher. These inequalities are caused by behavioral risk factors that include smoking and alcohol abuse. Unhealthy diets and low physical activity also have a negative impact on life expectancy and quality of life of Belarus residents. The combination of these risk factors increases the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attack and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes. Premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in Belarus make up 26%.
The high prevalence of NCDs in the Republic of Belarus, the seriousness of their consequences and multifactorial nature of their causes necessitate immediate action to prevent and reduce the burden of these diseases at the regional and national levels. Although Belarus has a developed hospital-based health system, it nevertheless urgently needs to strengthen primary health care to respond adequately to these health challenges and detect diseases at an early stage. Evidence suggests that such approach may reduce a further need for more expensive treatment.
Belarus’ key partner in the area of international technical assistance in health care is the European Union. Taking into account that international technical assistance to the Republic of Belarus in the field of health care has been provided to date through specialized UN agencies, four UN agencies - UNDP, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA - have combined their exclusive experience of implementation of such health projects and expertise in joint programming and implementation of joint programs.
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus is a national executing agency of the project. In addition, the project will also involve the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations and other national partners.
BELMED is the first national entry project in the health sector in Belarus with such a unique set of targets. The project is built on the recommendations made by the missions visiting Belarus in May and July 2014: WHO's mission for improvement of health protection and NCD problems and he joint mission of the United Nations for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. The main recommendations for Belarus included to gain evidence of the negative impact of the current burden of NCDs on the economy in general and the possibility of effective control of that influence, introduce surveillance of non-communicable disease risk factors, establish a national coordination mechanism on NCDs with the participation of public sector, NGOs and international organizations, optimize health care services and re-orient healthcare system towards the patient.