Preparing second national STEPS survey in Bangladesh on noncommunicable disease risk factors

Planning for the second national STEPS survey in Bangladesh has commenced with a four-day orientation workshop organized from 18-21 September 2017 by the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) and the Noncommunicable Disease Control Programme of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

STEPS is a simple, standardized method for collecting, analyzing and disseminating data on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors developed by World Health Organization (WHO) and implemented in WHO member countries. By providing information on tobacco use, alcohol use, physical inactivity, fruit and vegetable consumption and salt intake, as well as the prevalence of high blood pressure and raised fasting blood glucose in the population, STEPS provides valuable data for monitoring progress on reducing NCDs and their risk factors, and planning NCD policies and programmes.

The 2010 national STEPS survey in Bangladesh revealed that:

  • Half of the population uses tobacco in any form;
  • 95% of the population do not consume the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day;
  • Almost 30% of the population are insufficiently physically active;
  • 18% of the population are overweight;
  • 18% have raised blood pressure or are on medication for hypertension; and
  • Over three quarters of the adult population have two or more risk factors for NCDs

The second national STEPS survey will provide valuable information on trends in the population prevalence of these risk factors in Bangladesh, since 2010. Furthermore, the survey will enable progress reporting on the voluntary targets set forth in the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.

NIPSOM faculty, programme managers from DGHS, academics, and principle investigators involved in the previous survey were present in the inaugural session and the technical discussions.

The technical workshop provided an overview of STEPS and the global monitoring framework for NCDs, the experiences learned from STEPS 2010, and in-depth discussion of the STEPS instrument, including core, expanded and optional modules. Discussions were held on the sampling design, sample size, data collection procedures and data management, including eSTEPS technology. The workshop culminated in the presentation of the draft STEPS protocol by the NIPSOM faculty, which will form the foundation of implementation planning this year.

By using the same standardized questions and protocols, all countries can use STEPS information not only for monitoring within-country trends, but also for making comparisons across countries. The approach encourages the collection of useful information on a regular and continuing basis.