Obesity increasing in market women, children – GHS observes

Unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity is increasing the rate of obesity among market women in the country, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has identified.

The Acting Programme Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), GHS, DrEfuaCommeh, said the trend which was similar among young school-going children, was rather often misconstrued by sections of the public as a sign of ‘good living’ and ‘peace of mind.’

“The notion that when you are plump it means you are well-off and your husband is taking good care of you is false and unhelpful and this is affecting our children as well.

“Mothers whose babies are plump are seen to be well-off than those who appear thin so now,all mothers want their babies to be rounded and are feeding them with all sorts of unhealthy meals to achieve that but it is important to note that the fact that you are plumpy doesn’t mean you are healthy,” she said.

Dr Commeh was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a forum to discuss with partners in the national Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) fight, strategies to control the prevalence under the revised NCD Policy.

The policy has the objective to, among others, reduce exposure to risk factors that contribute to NCDs, strengthen early detection and management of such conditions to reduce associated morbidity as well as strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration for NCD prevention and control.

Dr Commeh encouraged members of the public to live healthy by adopting the habit of exercising regularly and eating healthy while monitor their lifestyle and undertaking routine medical examination to reduce risk of NCD.

The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said conditions of hypertension, stroke, diabetes and cancers continue to feature prominently in top 10 causes of death in all health facilities, annually.

He said challenges of high cost of management and treatment of the conditions coupled with low awareness on NCDs and gaps in the health systems was militating against reducing the prevalence across the country.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye thus stressed the need for collaborative efforts and strategic partnership in addressing the NCD scourge saying; “it is crucial that we join forces to address the NCD dynamics in Ghana.”

“Together we can do this, we need all hands on deck,” he urged.

For his part, the Head of Department of Community Health at the University of Ghana Medical School, Professor Alfred Edwin Yawson, warned that the country could be facing an “NCD pandemic” if all efforts were not harnessed to reduce the threat.

He particularly called for attention to be paid at improving geriatric care in the country describing Ghana’s population as an “aging one” which was a key risk factor for NCDs.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana has one of the highest proportions of aged persons and once people age, complications set in and chronic diseases come in.

However, in most of our health facilities, we don’t have any organised structure for geriatric care as a country we need to make deliberate efforts at improving that field,” he said.

Prof.Yawson recommended that out-patient department services are reorganised to give old people easy access and priority to healthcare while improving “training, awareness creation and capacity building of health professionals to better manage NCDs.”

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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