Ghana has a dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, however, due to insufficient funding for healthcare and donor priorities, communicable (infectious) diseases have taken precedence over non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
It is obvious that NCDs rank high among the top 10 causes of death in Ghana, and it is important that some attention is brought to the devastating nature of the emerging NCD epidemic. Combined, NCDs are now a major cause of death globally and in Ghana.
More so, the National Policy on Non-Communicable Diseases 2022 identifies the need for collaborative efforts led by the Ministry of Health to address all NCDs in a holistic way.
It is in regard, the Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) and the Private Health Sector Alliance of Ghana (PHSAG) see the need to organize the 5th National High-Level Meetings on NCDs in Accra.
The meeting attracted relevant stakeholders (MoH, GHS, NCD Programme, NHIA, private health sector, CSOs, and local and international organizations) to support the national response to the NCD challenge.
The meeting was on the theme: “Investing in NCD Service Delivery at Primary Healthcare Level to Achieve Universal Health Coverage.” and was held in line with the National Health Policy, National NCD Policy, and the National NCD Strategy.
Dr. Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, former Deputy Director-General of the WHO and Presidential Coordinator for Ghana’s COVID-19 Response speaking at the event, entreated stakeholders in health to build trusted partnerships to work towards effective non-communicable diseases (NCDs) services at the primary healthcare level to help attain the universal health coverage.
Stressing that, there is a need for health sectors to adopt the same spirit in the COVID-19 pandemic by developing business opportunities to address Ghana’s NCDs crisis.
The Chairperson of GhNCDA Dr Beatrice Wiafe Addai, further explained that the rationale behind the National High-Level platform was to elevate or bring to the fore the NCD challenge for national visibility and for appropriate national response.
In doing so, it seeks to support national efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declaration on NCDs as well as the National NCD Policy and Strategy.
“The event and the activities of the Ghana NCD Alliance over the past years have helped in putting the spotlight on NCDs in Ghana. It has created some level of awareness and given some policy directions on NCDs.
“The expectation of the GhNCDA is to ensure that government owns and institutionalise the National High-Level Meeting on NCDs for it to gain the much more needed attention. I daresay we risk a spike in NCD statistics if policymakers and healthcare institutions fail to prioritize the conditions and extend the needed are to afflicted patients,” she noted.
Dr Holger Till, the Team Leader, develoPPP Health, GIZ, in an interview also underscored the need for an inclusive, transparent, and effective multi-sectoral collaboration to help address this problem.
Stressing that Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is committed to supporting national efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declaration on NCDs as well as the National NCD Policy and Strategy.
Government to implement an effective and efficient taxation system on unhealthy commodities like tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages as they are the main Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) risk factors.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA) Labram Musah, in an interview also tasked the government to implement an effective and efficient taxation system on unhealthy commodities like tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages as they are the main Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) risk factors.
According to him, taxes had proven to reduce consumption while generating revenue for the government to finance Non-Communicable Disease related healthcare.
In a communique issued at the end 5th National High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases held in Accra, it said, the inclusion of essential NCD prevention and care services across the continuum of care and life course would inure to the benefit of Ghanaians.
Expansion of delivery of primary health care to include NCDs as a cornerstone of the sustained people-centered, community -based and integrated health system according to the communique are the foundation for achieving universal health coverage.
It said the implementation of universal health coverage reforms and policies that address the growing burden of multi-morbidities and considers the practical needs of persons living with more than one chronic condition.
It acknowledges the efforts of the Government in health financing. The communique added the two pro-health-inspired organizations are requesting an increase in Government revenue allocation to healthcare, specifically in NCD services at the primary healthcare facilities.
It recommended that National Health Insurance Authority include the full cost of NCDs medicines and diagnostic services on its existing part-paid benefit package.
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The communique recommended that the private sector be consciously integrated into the national health systems to generate and tap into a larger pool of expertise and innovation to advance universal health coverage in Ghana.
Per the recommendation contained in the communique, it said, they must be a paradigm shift in the national health agenda from being curative-oriented towards preventative in nature.
This year GhNCDA collaborates with PHSAG with funding from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Ghana Heart Initiative (GHI), World Vision International (WVI) and PATH to extensively engage stakeholders to fashion a direction for the national response in collaboration with MoH and GHS guided by the National Health Policy, National NCD Policy, and National NCD Strategy.
Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh