Scaling up strategies to tackle chronic disease (SUNI-SEA)

How to effectively scale up strategies to tackle non-communicable diseases. Research
How to effectively scale up strategies to tackle non-communicable diseases.
Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, so called noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), are collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide.

Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths, and 82% of the 16 million people who died prematurely, or before reaching 70 years of age, occur in low- and middle-income countries.(LMIC).

The increasing concerns on NCDs and their burden has led to our research project entitled “Scaling-Up NCD Interventions in South-East Asia (SUNI-SEA)”.

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South-East Asia's innovative strategies

While countries in Europe struggle with ever-increasing costs of chronic diseases, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam have developed innovative strategies to curb the epidemic of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in an early phase, by

  • moving NCD prevention and management from hospitals to primary healthcare facilities;
  • involving communities and bringing prevention and self-management to the homes of people;
  • linking NCD prevention to socio-economic development;
  • introducing integrated financing of health prevention and clinical care for NCDs.

Through evidence-based research in Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, SUNI-SEA will help inform countries how to effectively scale up strategies to tackle non-communicable diseases.


  1. Culturally adapted training for community volunteers to improve their knowledge, attitude and practice regarding non-communicable diseases in Vietnam


    The burden of non-communicable diseases is becoming unmanageable by primary healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries. Community-based approaches are promising for supporting healthcare facilities. In Vietnam, community health volunteers are trained in providing health promotion and screening in a culturally adapted training. This study aims to assess the change in knowledge, attitude and practice regarding NCD prevention and management after a culturally adapted training, and the potential mechanisms leading to this change.

    The Knowledge Attitude and Practice survey was assessed before and after an initial training, and before and after a refresher training (n = 37). We used a focus group discussion with community health volunteers (n = 8) to map potential mechanisms of the training and applying learned knowledge in practice. 

    Interested in the results? Read the full article.

  2. Role of inclusive self-help groups in prevention and management of diabetes and hypertension in Myanmar


    Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are a growing public health concern in Myanmar. Community-based self-help groups are essential for participating in health-related activities. However, little is known about the role of inclusive self-help groups (ISHG) in hypertension and diabetes management.

    The study included six townships from three different regions of Myanmar, where ISHG existed. Two focus group discussions (FGDs) were held in each township. A total of twelve FGDs were conducted.

    Interested in the results? Read the full article.

  3. Our research regarding community-based approaches and non-communicable diseases in Vietnam, has just been published!


    We found that the implementation of a community-based program in Vietnam is promising for promoting public health. This approach is a feasible community-based support program that has been successfully implemented in Vietnam. This study shows the potential of this community approach for improving the health of older people and disadvantaged people and of the RE-AIM framework for assessing the implementation of community health promotion approaches. 

    Read full article 

  4. Save the date: SUNI-SEA Policy conference


    The Global Health research group wants to invite you all to the SUNI-SEA policy conference! The hybrid conference will be held on Thursday 15 June 2023 from 9 a.m. till 1.30 p.m. (GMT+1). This event’s purpose is to discuss the importance of scaling up non-communicable disease (NCD) interventions that focus on the role of communities within the primary healthcare approach. Additionally, the event’s purpose is to better understand the centrality of these communities for achieving universal health coverage. A strong primary health care system which puts people and communities at the centre of health systems is the cornerstone for achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

    More info and registration

  5. SUNI-SEA Consortium Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam


    During 9-12 October, the SUNI-SEA consortium members met face-to-face for the first time in three years in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    The four-day meeting was an opportunity to share and discuss the findings of the baseline survey and reflect on the learning and the progress achieved for the implementation of the research activities. The programme also included a wonderful opportunity to conduct a site visit to Ninh Binh province to meet with provincial health department leaders, local authorities and to visit an Intergenerational Self-Help Club (ISHC). The visit highlighted the importance of a multisector approach to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and the significant role that the ISHCs play in enhancing the health and wellbeing of their club members, in particular for NCDs prevention and control.

    Read more about the Consortium Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam

  6. Sharing lessons learnt for quality improvement of community health services in South East Asian countries at the European Public Health Conference


    During the conference the SUNI-SEA project team hosted a skill building session ‘Scaling-up community based NCDs prevention and control interventions: focus on quality’. The session led to a fruitful discussion and was a great opportunity for us to share some of our learning from the SUNI-SEA project. 

    Read more about the session

  7. Webinar Scaling-up community based NCD prevention and control: focus on quality


    Join this skills building webinar organised by the SUNI-SEA consortium, powered by EUPHA, on Thursday 27 October 2022, 10:00 - 11:00 (CET). The SUNI-SEA consortium will share their experiences on scaling-up community based non-communicable diseases prevention. To reduce the burden of NCD prevention, early detection and treatment is crucial. During this webinar, we’ll dive into the research project Scaling up NCD interventions in Southeast ASIA (SUNI SEA) with their new dimension on scaling up. 

    Register now for the webinar

  8. Guideline for contextual adaptation of community-based health interventions


    Community-based health interventions, tailored to sociocultural aspects of health and well-being, such as local language, religion, traditions, and individual preferences, may promote health more effectively than when no attention is paid to these aspects. That’s why we developed a guideline. This guideline provides insight into how community-based health interventions can be tailored to health perspectives of community members, and into the context in which the intervention is implemented.

    Read the entire publication

  9. Missed our Moving Forward webinar?


    No problem! You can watch our webinar 'Moving forward: how to continue public health implementation research in low- and middle-income countries during COVID-19' here. We've also included the notes and the presentations that were given.

    I want to watch the webinar

  10. Moving Forward Webinar


    Attend our webinar at 2 March (10:00-11:30 am CEST / 3:00-4:30 pm ICT). In this webinar we'll discuss how you continue public health implementation research in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) during COVID-19. The webinar is open for everyone, but registration is needed.

    More information about the webinar

  11. Fourth year of SUNI-SEA


    We are now in the fourth year of the SUNI-SEA project. During this last phase of our project, we are looking forward to sharing the outcomes of our research including the analysed data, publications, training modules, policy recommendations and more.

    Keep an eye on our website for updates

  12. Knowledge on hypertension in Myanmar: levels and groups at risk


    In a new publication SUNI-SEA researchers find that the majority of study participants in Myanmar appear to be reasonably well informed about risk factors, symptoms and complications related to hypertension, with no differences between hypertensive patients and non-patients, and no difference between CBI members and non-members. Unemployed study participants and less educated study participants have less knowledge of hypertension, which prioritizes them as priority groups for health education.

    Read the entire publication

  13. Sharing experience and building skills at the European Public Health Conference


    During the recent 14th European Public Health Conference, held during 10–12 November 2021, the SUNI-SEA project consortium members jointly facilitated a skill-building seminar titled, ‘Community Based NCDs Prevention and Control: What Can we Learn from Research in South- East Asia?’ The virtual workshop provided an excellent opportunity for us to highlight our work, share our experiences and discuss the preliminary outcomes of our action research activities.

    Read more

  14. Community-based health interventions work best with cultural and contextual adaptation


    Community-based health interventions (CBHIs) have been shown to promote health more effectively when tailored to sociocultural aspects linked to health perception. Contextual conditions highly influence the way people perceive their health, and health perception is strongly associated with health behaviours and outcomes. Therefore, it is important to adapt CBHIs to sociocultural needs.

    Read how the SUNI-SEA project does this

  15. Core health-components, contextual factors and program elements of community-based interventions in Southeast Asia – a realist synthesis regarding hypertension and diabetes


    The first article by SUNI-SEA researchers gives an overview of the main health components and contextual factors and program elements of community interventions, related to diabetes and hypertension in Southeast Asia. Using realistic evaluation, this review contributes to an in-depth understanding of which core health components work in CBI, including which factors and elements, in which Southeast Asian context. The article was published in BMC Public Health, October 2021.

    Read the full article here

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