Abstract for: Turning Sentiment into Action: The role of System Dynamics in Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control in Cambodia

Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for an increasing majority of deaths in Cambodia. The Cambodian government developed a national multisectoral plan for reducing the advancing burden of NCDs. Yet, there was resistance to transitioning from ongoing communicable disease to NCD efforts. Group Model Building (GMB) was applied to bring stakeholders to a shared understanding of the dynamics of an NCD program, resulting in a System Dynamics (SD) model of the onset and complications of NCDs. Cambodian analysts were introduced to SD methods and use of the model in a 3-day course. Risk factor reduction efforts alone must have substantial effects to make a meaningful difference in NCDs. Screening alone faces a bottleneck of inadequate access to treatment. Improving community capacity for basic NCD services will be costly and administrators must prepare for delayed benefits, and understand that increasing prevalence of NCD signifies success. The 5-year consultation in Cambodia based on SD helped translate the sentiment of a national plan into concrete program development. GMB engaged stakeholders, and resulted in a tailored Cambodia NCD model. SD applied to addressing unmet health needs in low and middle income countries is valuable and will require more trained practitioners.