The Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Alliance is calling on the various political parties seeking the mandate of the populace to govern the country to make prevention of NCDs their number one priority in healthcare delivery.
According to the Ghana NCDs Alliance, political actors should note that protecting people especially the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized from the financial consequences of paying for health services out of their own pockets reduces the risk of pushing people into poverty because unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings, sell assets, or borrow, thus destroying their futures and often those of their children.
Addressing the media at a Press Conference held in Accra yesterday on NCDs CSOs Manifesto, the National Coordinator – Ghana NCDs Alliance, Mr. Labram M. Musah stressed that worrying data available shows the time has come for all political actors to put much effort towards NCDs prevention.
He said “We want to note that the various manifestos are not very comprehensive to address and create a healthy environment to prevent and manage NCDS, with no mention of key issues ranging from access to healthy foods to creation of safe public spaces for physical activity and prevention of diseases.
We want to send a clear message to all political parties to include in their campaign, messages that protect the population from the five major NCDS risk factors: Tobacco/Shisha use, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, physical activity and air pollution.
We also want bold leaders that can take bold decisions including holding industries accountable for the havoc they have and continue to cause the citizens. We have had enough NCDs, enough NCDs deaths; it is now time to act on NCDs in this country to protect present and future generations.”
The National Coordinator – Ghana NCDs Alliance hinted that leaving NCDs issues unattended is a recipe for a more devastating epidemic to befall the country and by extension the world. Saying almost all the measures put in place to ensure citizen’s safety in the health sector is reactive in nature.
“In 2016 alone, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that over 94,400 Ghanaians died from NCDs. An estimated 22, 000 lives in Ghana could have been saved if all the WHO Best Buys for NCD prevention and control are implemented effectively”. Mr. Musah disclosed.
According to him, some of the WHO best buys the various political parties can fall on to ensure maximum safety for the Ghanaian populace includes: increase taxes on unhealthy commodities such as tobacco, alcohol sugar-sweetened beverages, reduce trans-fat, sugar, and salt intake, Front-of package labeling regulation and healthy food environments in schools.
Globally it is estimated that 41 million people die from NCDs every year with more than 85% being premature and occurring in low and middle-income countries like Ghana.
It is an undeniable fact that People living with NCDs and adults aged 60 years and above as well as those with underlying health conditions were those highly vulnerable to Covid-19 pandemic which had wrecked havoc across the globe.
The Ghana NCDs Alliance believes the Covid-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call for adequate investment in NCD prevention and control, stating that currently, NCDs are under-funded.
“How can we move past disease-centric global health and sustainable financing when investment on NCDs to date has been woefully insufficient? The total aid funding for NCDs represents less than $1 per person per year, even though NCDs represent the major cause of premature death and disability.” Mr. Musah enquired.
The National Coordinator – Ghana NCDs Alliance pointed out that Ghana has good laws on health and implementing them attentively can improve the health of the citizenry, some of them laws are:
- Public health Act (Tobacco Control Measures and regulations)
- National Alcohol Policy 2016
- National Policy and Strategy on NCDs
- National Strategy for Cancer Control
- Disability Act (Act 715)
A Lancet report aimed at tracking global progress on NCDs against commitments to reduce deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030, commissioned this month reveals that the risk of dying prematurely from NCDs is leading rapidly in Central and Eastern Europe.
However, large countries that showed stagnation or small increases in risk of premature death from these NCDs included Ghana (men and women) Bangladesh (men), Egypt (women), Cote d’Ivoire (men and women), Kenya (men and women), Mexico (men), Sri Lanka (women), Tanzania (men) and the USA (women). This shows that Ghana is lagging behind in progress towards NCDs matters.
Below is the Ghana NCD Alliance Manifesto which is built under 4 thematic areas:
Ensuring The Attainment Of Human Right And Social Justice
Availability and access to essential life-saving medicines and products for people living with NCDs are unacceptably still out of reach for millions of people around the country, particularly in low income, poorest and most vulnerable populations. A particular issue is the inadequate supply of glucometers at the community health centers for diagnoses. Our constitution is clear on the entitlement of every human being to fundamental human rights. Health is a human right and we demand just that.
Prevention, Research And Implementation Of NCDS Policies
According to WHO for every US$1 invested in scaling up actions to address NCDs in low and lower-middle-income countries, there will be a return to society of at least US$7 in increased employment, productivity, and long life.
Provision Of Treatment Care And Support Services
The huge costs associated with the treatment and cares for NCDs have caused many PLWNCDS to lose their businesses and income, lending to total neglect by their families and friends.
Meaningful Involvement Of CS0s And People Living With NCDs
People living with NCDS can contribute meaningfully across the spectrum of the health and NCD related activities from research, policy making programme planning to implementation as well as monitoring, evaluation, and accountability efforts.
Meanwhile Madam Katherine Berkoh, a person living with endometriosis and representative of people living with NCDs recounted her ghastly and traumatic experience she and her friends have gone through and still going through to the media.
According to her she is one in 10 women living with Endometriosis (stage I) after a sense of misdiagnosis for 11 years.
Madam Berkoh revealed that she has had eight (8) surgeries. Saying lots of women with endometriosis are going through excruciating pains yet when they complain, the only “comforting” response we hear is ‘the pain is our imagination (our heads)’.
“This excruciating pain is often dismissed as women’s troubles causing many women to suffer a life of pain and debilitation and sometimes infertility. Constantly being told we have a low pain threshold is affecting our mental health.
No the pain we describe is not in our heads it is real. We are suffering in silence. Please help us” She cried out.
Madam Berkoh strongly believes there is the need for education on endometriosis. Saying early diagnosis is key.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH