Non communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and mental health are responsible for the death of 94,400 people in Ghana annually.
The Chairperson for Ghana Non Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA), Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Addai said that “nearly half of Ghana’s annual death is accounted for by NCDs”.
She stated these at a national high level meeting on NCDs in Accra on Wednesday on the theme, “Investing in NCD prevention and control, key to achieving Ghana’s primary health care for all.”
The event, a lead up to the United Nations High level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in New York, aimed at discussing the NCDs within the context of achieving UHC in Ghana as well as find alternative domestic resource mobilisation to support the health sector.
Dr Wiafe-Addai deplored the high cost of accessing healthcare in the country, a situation she believed hampered efforts at reducing the rise of NCDs in Ghana.
To her, instances where treatment centres were concentrated in urban centres to the disadvantage of rural folks, quality care being the preserve of the rich in society among others, needed to be looked at if Ghana was to achieve UHC.
“If we are to address the health needs of our people, like those living with NCDs, we need to do so by ensuring everyone enjoys quality standards of care and financial protection. Without UHC, we cannot end the NCD epidemic,” she cautioned.
The chairperson of the Alliance urged Ghanaians to develop the habit of regular health checkups, pay critical attention to their diet and have regular exercises to avoid contracting NCDs.
In a remark, Deputy Minister of Health, Alexander Kom Abban, admitted Ghana would not be able to fight NCDs without UHC since one’s treatment largely depended on his or her financial status.
Government, he noted, had the responsibility to ensure quality healthcare coverage which was affordable and available to all persons at all times.
“In view of this, the government of Ghana has developed a roadmap that seeks to localise the global UHC goals with an adequate set of national targets,” he stated.
The roadmap, he said, aimed at guiding the development of detailed strategies and operational plans to deliver people-centred health services over the next decade.
Mr Abban said the UHC package of care had been compiled based on the aspirations of Ghanaians, existing health packages, global guidelines, evidence of cost effectiveness and emerging health needs.
To this end, he indicated that the ministry was making efforts to ensure that treatment of chronic NCDs were captured under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a means of alleviating the cost burden of NCD patients in accessing care.
In a speech read on his behalf, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said evidence available indicated that NCDs will continue to increase in the country if aggressive measures were not put in place to control them.
He, therefore, called for collaborative efforts to reverse the trend “as we also channel energies into prevention and health promotion”.
Dr Nsiah-Asare expressed the service commitment to continue providing quality service to all persons to achieve UHC.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH