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Bull World Health Organ. 2001; 79(10): 963–970.
Published online Nov 1, 2001.
PMCID: PMC2566669

Community-based noncommunicable disease interventions: lessons from developed countries for developing ones.


Community-based programmes for prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) started in Europe and the USA in the early 1970s. High mortality from CVD in Finland led to the start of the North Karelia Project. Since then, a vast amount of scientific literature has accumulated to present results and discuss experience. The results indicate that heart health programmes have a high degree of generalizability, are cost-effective and can influence health policy. In the 1980s the focus of programmes expanded from CVD to noncommunicable diseases (NCD), mainly because of the common risk factors. Attention has now turned to promoting this approach in developing countries, where the prevalence of NCD is growing. Theory and experience show that community-based NCD programmes should be planned, run and evaluated according to clear principles and rules, collaborate with all sectors of the community, and maintain close contact with the national authorities. In view of the burden of disease they represent and of globalization, there is a great need for international collaboration. Practical networks with common guidelines but adaptable to local cultures in a flexible way have proved to be very useful.

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