Universal care for NCDs remains mirage – GhNCDA

The Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA) has observed with grave concern how access to high quality, appropriate and universal or comprehensive care remains a mirage for people living with Non-Communicable Diseases(NCDs) in the country.

According to the chairperson of the GhNCDA, Dr Beatrice Wiafe Addai, “it remains unclear the extent to which health policy reforms towards the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda for Ghana have considered the needs of people living with NCDs”.

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Dr Addai, also President of Breast Care International, was further worried about the lack of a comprehensive review of policies to unravel the topical public health issues from a cross-section of key stakeholders including health care providers, people living with NCDs, researchers, policymakers, NGOs and community members.

NCDs, she said, continued to be in the back-burner even though statistics showed that “they are responsible for several COVID-19 deaths and deserve more attention by way of resource allocation and planned programme of action to mitigate their negative impact on society”.

She was speaking at the fourth National High Level Meeting of the GhNCDA on the theme “Leaving no one’s health behind, Pprioritising NCDs in the Universal Health Coverage”.

She noted that investing in health and leaving no one behind “requires a composite national health care programme that looks to the equity and equality of each condition with a corresponding resource allocation”.

According to Dr Addai, the Alliance was developing a centralised national database to be leveraged to advance the cause for the formulation and implementation of suitable policies.

She said the Alliance had collectively resolved to protect the lives of patients with hypertension, cancers, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia, mental health, stroke among others “but this could be achieved if the media shines the spotlight on these conditions which have ravaged families, the basic unit of life” and urged the media to give more room to the discussions of NCDs.

The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in a speech read by his advisor, Dr Baffour Awuah, mentioned that the Ministry had rolled out a policy to ensure that hospitals or health centres provided wellness clinics where people could attend to make it easier for people living with NCDs.

He said the government had initiated a lot of interventions to address the increasing incidence of morbidity and mortality of NCDs, stressing “cabinet has this year approved the revised National NCD Policy”.

Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, underlined the importance of early medical checkups to avoid high cost of medication when the disease should escalate.

He also asked all and sundry to eschew stigmatisation such that people living with NCDs could openly discuss the ailment.

It is on record that the burden of NCDs in Ghana is on the rise and recent studies have reported that about six per cent of adults are living with diabetes.

Prevalence of NCD is also increasing, resulting in poor mental and physical health, premature mortality, and increased costs for individuals, families, and healthcare service.

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