Panellists at a national forum to address the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country have stressed the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to deal with the menace.
They held that the NCD threat was multifaceted which calls for stepping up efforts in areas of sustainable funding, healthcare provision, religious beliefs and public sensitisation to reduce the disease burden to the barest minimum.
The panellists included the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS)Dr Lydia Ssane-Selby, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast of the Catholic Church, Charles Palmer-Buckle and Mr Christopher Agbega, a representative of the Ghana NCD Alliance.
The discussion was to kick off implementation of the revised National NCD Policy and Strategic Plan (2022-2026) which aims at accelerating the national fight against NCDs.
The policy, aligned with global strategies to prevent and control NCDs was to help attain Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC)targets of not leaving anyone behind by 2030.
It targets reducing exposure to risk factors that contribute to NCDs, ensure sustainable funding for NCD prevention and control, strengthen the health system, support early detection and management and multi-sectoral collaboration to reducing NCDs.
The policy focuses on six NCDs including cancers, injuries, sickle cell disease, mental, eye and oral health.
NCDs presently account for 43 percent of all deaths in Ghana.
Among these deaths, 19 percent is attributed to cardiovascular diseases, cancers, five percent while diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are three percent and two percent respectively.
Dr Selby indicated that 15percent of claims made on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NCDs)were related to NCDs with close to 14million cedis claimed every month.
While the scheme would consider enrolling more packages to improve access to basic healthcare services, she urged service providers to utilise claims wisely.
“The situation where health facilities take monies to services covered by the scheme to plug financial gaps is wrong and must be stopped,” she urged.
The DG, Dr Kuma-Aboagyeexpressed worry over increase in NCDs among young people lately indicating that the economic effects through their lifetime were dire.
He said the service was working at strengthening diagnosis of NCDs at the primary healthcare level,by building the capacity of health workers.
“We are working on establishing wellness clinics to encourage screening, counselling among other primary preventive measures against NCDs.”
The Minister of Health,Mr KwakuAgyeman-Manu, launching the documents disclosed that implementation over the next five years would cost the nation 110 million US dollars.
He said to track effective implementation, a multidisciplinary steering committee had been set upto ensure its success.
Mr Agyeman-Manu appealed to the public to adopt healthy lifestyle changes which were so critical to the success of the fight against NCDs.
“The time has come for sustainable innovative ways of delivering NCD interventions to our people and all and sundry must support the National NCD programme to succeed.”
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH