The Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Alliance, a non-governmental organisation operating in the health sector has launched its latest research findings on the Status of NCDs within the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Ghana.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) NCD Progress Monitor, NCDs are responsible for the death of 94,400 people annually and this represents 43% of all mortalities.
The majority of the People Living with NCDs (PLWNCDs) in Ghana have and are experiencing adverse health outcomes including preventable deaths due to health system failure, stigmatization, high cost of treatment and care, lack of affordable medicines, and treatment option among others.
The research paper is captioned “The Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases within the context of Universal Health Coverage in Ghana”
The research according to National Coordinator of the Ghana NCD Alliance, Mr. Labram Musah, was conducted to enable his outfit assessing the level of priority given to NCDs within the context of UHC in the provision of treatment, care, and support, especially at the community level.
He explained further that the study was also to understand the health care needs, priorities, and concerns of PLWNCDs especially at the local level. Critically analyze the extent of priority given to NCDs within the context of UHC and NCDs in the provision of treatment, care, and support in some selected districts in Greater Accra.
“It was as well to explore the views of health care providers on their experiences in the provision of care to PLWNCDs and the main challenges that people living with NCDs experience concerning treatment, care, and support and to afford us engage policymakers to seek their perspectives on the healthcare system,” the National Coordinator of the Ghana NCD Alliance opined.
To properly understand the concerns of those directly and indirectly affected by the health gaps, an in-depth interviews were conducted among people living with NCDs across all the regions. The interview also involved policymakers, researchers, and CS0s partners to explore their perspectives on Ghana’s UHCS policy framework and the context of NCDs. Mr. Musah further noted.
The study revealed also that while the burden of the conditions is increasing in Ghana, efforts aimed at minimizing the impact have been generally low. There is a need for increased focus on health promotion and prevention; multi-sectoral approaches, addressing the social determinants of health and coming up with innovative financing mechanisms to protect PLWNCDs from catastrophic health expenditure.
Below are some of the Key Research Findings
Health care needs, priorities, and concerns of people living with NCDs within the context of UHC
The findings care needs, priorities, and concerns of people living with NCDs within the context of UHC showed that PLWNCDs experience financial hardship due to the high cost of drugs and treatment thus leading to poor access to health care. Coupled with this, many of the PLWNCDs experience stigma and discrimination, and these constitute psychological barriers to seeking and receiving appropriate treatment for their conditions.
Health providers views on the challenges experienced by PLWNCDs
The narratives of the healthcare providers supported the clam that PLWNCDS experience difficulty in seeking appropriate treatment and this is largely due to stigmatization, inadequate finance, and high cost of accessing care. According to a Physician Assistant, some other PLWNCDs have challenges in the area of drug in-take because they are illiterates. That is, some of them do not know how to read and some of them end up practicing drug overdose
Civil Society Organizations/Non-Governmental organizations, NCDs and UHC in Ghana
According to the NGOs/CSOs officers interviewed, apart from the fact that PLWNCDs have been side-lined and their voices unheard, they are not fully integrated into the policy which is equity-focused for quality care. They were of the view that issues of PLWNCDs have been left aside for too long and the current UHC roadmap in Ghana is generic and nothing specific about NCDs and PLWNCDS. They, therefore, recommended that special attention should be given to PLWNCDs and allocate funds in the national health budget for financial protection.
Government, UHC & NCDs in Ghana
The narratives of policymakers showed that the government is committed to attaining UHC hence the development of a UHC Roadmap. Similarly, they mentioned that the National NCDs Policy had been revised to ensure it is comprehensive enough to tackle the needs of PLWNCDS. Finally, the policymakers interviewed clearly stated that the issue of prescription of medicines not listed on the NHIS package is not due to the efficacy of the drugs, but because doctors often fail to prescribe medicines that the patient can afford over his/her lifetime given the chronic nature of the illness.
Meanwhile the consultants who undertook the study came up with eight point’s specific measures and recommendations to ensure better health outcomes for PLWNCDs within the context of the UHC agenda in Ghana as follows:
- Come up with innovative financing mechanisms to protect PLWNCDs from catastrophic health expenditures.
- Expand the NHIS Packages to include NCDs medicines.
- Public education and awareness creation on NCDs at the community level.
- Competency-based training for health care workers on patient-centred care to PLWNCDs should be intensified.
- Put in place mechanisms for early diagnosis, appropriate and efficient referral, and long-term care for NCDs would better prepare health systems in Ghana to deal with the burden of NCDs.
- Increase public education on NCD management and control.
- Expanded and strengthen the health care system to be responsive to the health care needs of PLWNCDs especially at the PHC and CHIPs level
- Create specialise clinic for NCDs and chronic illness to avoid long waiting hours especially the proposed new created hospital by government.
Story & pictures: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: email@example.com