Globally Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)-mainly cardiovascular, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the world’s biggest killers.
NCDs kill approximately 40 million people globally each year, accounting for 70% of all deaths.
About 15 million of those deaths are in people between the ages of 30 and 69. Low- and middle-income
countries are particularly affected by NCDs with more than 80% of all deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries.
In a speech read on his behalf the World Health Organization Country Representative for Ghana, Dr. Owen Kaluwa, during the launching ceremony of the Ghana advocacy Agenda of persons living with NCDs in Accra, he noted that low and middle income countries are particularly affected by NCDs with more than 80 percent of all deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries.
This he said, effective non-communicable disease prevention and control requires leadership, coordinated multi stakeholder engagement for health both at the government level and at the level of wide range of actors.
According to him, as Ghana strive to achieve NCDs targets, it must not lost track of the commitment to achieving the SDG target especially Goal 3 which talks about health and wellbeing for all by the year 2030.
“People should have access without discrimination to nationally determined sets of needed promotive, preventing, curative and rehabilitative basic health services and essential, safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines,” he stated.
The Coordinator of the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA), Labram M. Musah, noted that persons living with NCDs have been neglected to take care of their disease burden and called for government’s intervention in prevention, treatment and improved access to facilities across the country.
Stressing that, when NCDs are captured under the NHIS, the out of pocket treatment cost on persons living with the disease will be lessened.
This he said Ghana cannot afford to exclude NCDs from its national health and development agendas, due to the growing rate of NCDs involving mainly cancers, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, which currently accounted for 94,000 of preventable deaths each year.
Deputy Minister of Health, Alexander Abban , speaking at the event, he hinted that efforts are a being made to ensure that treatment of some NCDs are captured under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a way to alleviate the burden on people living with NCDs with regard to economic cost and access to healthcare.
This is in line with the Ministry’s initiative to ensure universal health coverage for all.
The Ministry is also developing a primary health care policy which will seek to ensure that the Universal Health Coverage which is a foundation of primary health care is accessible without financial hardship.
According to him, the Ministry is reviewing the diseases that are covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme and will ensure that some NCDs are captured under the scheme to help alleviate the plight of people living with NCDs.
Adding that, a number of preventive measures are in place and urged citizens to take their health seriously by avoiding unhealthy practices like alcohol intake, smoking and consumption of junk foods.
Deputy NCDs Programmes Manager at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Afua Commeh, also entreated Ghanaians to avoid unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, intake of excessive alcohol and endeavor to consume healthy meals to avoid contracting NCDs.
According to her, NCDs are now killing Ghanaians more than they used to be. She advised the populace to go for regular check-ups and screenings to know their status since early diagnoses will help in prevention and control of the diseases.
The Vice Chairman of the Ghana NCDs Alliance Ebenezer Ad-Adams explained that the ambition of the Alliance is to reduce the burden of NCDs and this cannot be achieved without pragmatic action on prevention, adequate treatment, care and support.
This he said the advocacy agenda seeks to strengthen the NCDs response at national, regional and local levels.
However, he explained that the group is a platform for civil society and people living with the NCDs to demand action from decision makers and urge them to work at meeting global and national commitments.
Joshua Makubu, a person living with NCDs called for improved access to public transport, public facilities and work spaces for persons with disabilities and NCDs as enshrined in the Disability Act.
He also frowned against discrimination against persons living with NCDs and called for the enforcement of laws protecting the rights of people living with Non-Communicable Diseases at workplaces and at the community level.
The Ghana Advocacy Agenda of People living with NCDs is promoting four main themes; (1) human rights and social justice; (2)prevention (3)treatment, care and support and (4). meaningful Involvement.
The Advocacy Agenda is under the theme: Putting people living with NCDs at the Centre of National Health Agenda.