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Health Experts Call For Urgent Action Against Non-communicable Diseases

Public health experts are raising alarm over the rise of life-threatening Non-Communicable Diseases(NCD) in Ghana and cautioned people to control eating habit and avoid tobacco smoking.

Non-communicable diseases are characterized by long duration and generally slow in progression. They include cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes which are generally believed to be on the rise.

The public health experts revealed this at the National High-Level Meeting on NCD in the lead up to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverages(UHC) in Accra Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

The meeting was on the theme: “Investing in NCD prevention and control, key to achieving Ghana’s Primary health care for all.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that millions of people in Africa and beyond will die from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2020.

Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Addai, Chairperson of the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA), and Ghana Cancer Board in a statement revealed that the high prevalence of health crisis in Ghana is facing is not peculiar to the country as other African countries are also experiencing similar trends.

According to her, about 44% of all deaths recorded in Ghana are attributable to Non-Communicable Disease, which she believed every person or growing adults in the countries are at risk and potential patients of any of the Non-Communicable Disease.

She indicated that “44% is closed to 50% of all mortalities and about 21% of all premature deaths are from Non-Communicable Diseases.”

These chronic diseases, she stated include diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancers, and hepatitis are on the increase though they are not caused or transmitted by germs.

Dr Beatrice explained that the diseases rely heavily on avoidance of some lifestyle risk factors including smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet (people not taking fruits and eating vegetables), and low level of exercises.

This, she said the UN High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage is very timely and demand-driven, noting that “if we are to address the health needs of our people like those living with NCDs, we need to do so by ensuring everyone enjoys quality standards of care and financial protection-in other words, UHC…Without UHC we cannot end the NOD epidemic”.

Participants at NCD Meeting in Accra

ADeputy Minister of Health, Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, who spoke on behalf of the sector Minister Kweku Agyeman Manu said the government is taking proactive action in responding to the NCD epidemic in our country.

He commended the WHO’S efforts to have UHC on the global health agenda and assured of government support to the notion that “commitments to make UHC a reality globally going forward will rely on individual governments making the tight call at a national level”.

Mr Kom Abban further assured the Ghana government commitment to the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage to reduce if not end the NCD epidemic in the country

The representative of the community of People Living with NCDs, Christopher Agbegah in his submissions said Ghana cannot afford to exclude NCDs from its national health and development agenda.

According to him,..“Ghana’s health system is under stress as a result of the rapid spread of NCDs. Treatment of NCDs comes at a huge cost that undermines workforce productivity and the economic prosperity of the country. We need to begin to seriously consider how UHC might become the tool to both treat and prevent the NCD epidemic.”

The Ghana NCD Alliance said Ghana cannot hope to end its growing NCD while people struggle to meet the costs of diagnosis, treatment and care, “NCDs such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and mental health are reported to be responsible for the death of 94,400 people in Ghana annually (42% of all deaths)”

The High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, (NCDs), was attended by a broad section of society, government representatives, Civil Society Organization, UN Country Representatives, Traditional and Religious leaders, International and local NGOs, relevant private sector groups, patient groups, research and academic institutions, trade unions, university and tertiary institutions, medial associations, women groups, child welfare and youth groups.

The meeting provided a platform for key health stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service/NCDP, Civil Society Organizations, and People living with NCDs to discuss NCDs n the context of achieving Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Experts address the press at NCD High-level meeting

Access to optimal medical treatments often depends on a person’s financial resources, and with over half of the world’s population unable to access essential healthcare and millions being driven into poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health services, the time has come to seriously discuss the long term social and economic benefits of UHC.

The Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) was formed in 2017 and officially registered on January 11, 2018, under the leadership of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), and with support from the NCD Alliance.

Its objectives are to identify and implement strategies that ensure early detection, quality of care and cost of treatment and care for those affected by NCDs; Strengthen the capacities of civil society, PLWNCDs and development professionals; Support the development and implementation of national plans and policies related to NCDs; Strengthen and build partnerships with governments, other regional and global networks in the implementation of NCDs programmes; Conduct research and share knowledge on NCDs among others

Other health experts said prevention of non-communicable diseases that are life-threatening as well as weakening, and they place uncertain hardship on the people and family of those who are affected.

A report released by the WHO, that consolidates available data, indicated that these impending threats can be predicted because most adults in Africa have at least one risk factor that increases their chances of developing a life-threatening NCD, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive lung disease.

“The burden of illness, which has been gradually increasing over the past decade, will likely surpass the toll of sickness and death from infectious diseases by 2030,” says WHO.

It added that “Worldwide, deaths from NCDs will reach an estimated 44 million within the next four years, an increase of 15% from WHO’s 2010 estimate.”

Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba

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