The Ghana Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (Ghana NCD Alliance), a non-governmental organization, has expressed worry over the rising cases of diabetes and called for pragmatic solutions to reduce the incidence in the country.

It said despite the various awareness campaigns by organisations and other relevant institutions, not much progress was being felt.

The call was made in a statement signed by Mr Labram Musah, the National Coordinator, Ghana NCD Alliance and Programmes Director, Vision for Alternative Development and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday to mark the 2019 World Diabetes Day celebrated on November 14 each year.

The Day was on the theme: “The Family and Diabetes,” which aimed at raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and to support those affected, as well as promote the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

The statement said: “We are glad that some organisations are supporting the Ministry of Health to reduce the incidence by providing timely care to those living with diabetes and hypertension.”

It said: “It is important however to note that when proper measures are not put in place to ameliorate the canker, all efforts would be in vain,” adding that; “We believe in prevention as the best investment any leader can bestow to its people”.

The statement said many diabetes risk factors including overweight and obesity, tobacco and alcohol intake, unhealthy diet, being physically inactive were all preventable while diabetes resulting from history and genetics were also largely preventable when diabetes status were known.

“Diabetes is a physical illness and must be managed typically through proper medication, healthy diet and regular exercise,” it said.

It said many Ghanaians were still struggling with the financial burden of costs of medicines, diagnostic tests and recommended diets, and called for financial support for the payment of health services.

“The high cost of treatment and regular test for diabetes puts lots of financial burden on people living with diabetes, thus pushing them into poverty. The unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings or borrow thereby destroying the future of their children.”

The statement said to effectively achieve the United Nations Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it was incumbent for government to put people first and invest in health which was a human right defined by WHO.

“The right to health for all people means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship” and that “No one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need,” it said.

It said: “We are witnessing direct opposite because the people especially the poor, vulnerable and the underserved communities are dying because they are unable to afford quality and affordable medicines at the point of need contrary to principles of the UHC”.

The statement proposed that families should learn more about the warning signs of diabetes and find out their risk of type ‘2’ diabetes; empower communities to manage diabetes; promote the consumption of locally produced indigenous Ghanaian food.

There should be policies to check industry such as tobacco, alcohol, sugar products and junk food joints in the prevention and promotion efforts on diabetes and the enactment of legislations to mandate manufacturers to display food content labels.

The rest are public awareness campaign at all levels, especially at the local and remote communities; increase of budget allocation to NCDs programmes; improvement of the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover all diabetes diagnoses, treatment and care; quality training for healthcare workers, specially community health workers to expand reach, prohibition of sale of unapproved local/herbal medicines and all health centres must dedicate a consulting room for people to work in to just check their diabetes, hypertension and other vitals; thus easing stress and encouraging more people to know their health status.

The statement said diabetes was a leading cause of blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney failure and early death and that simple action could reduce the risk.

“Every eight seconds someone dies from diabetes and one in two people with diabetes do not know they have it,” it said.

It said Type ‘2’ diabetes accounts for around 90 per cent of all people living with diabetes and that it commonly affected adults but was increasingly seen in children and adolescents.

The statement said diabetes among children was also rising and they face discrimination in schools because of lack of knowledge about the disease among teachers and called on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to prioritise skills development for teachers to enable them manage the conditions.

It said the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated that as many as 212 million people, or half of all adults currently living with diabetes, were undiagnosed and that most of these have type ‘2’ diabetes and further estimated that 15.5 million adults aged 20-79 years were living with diabetes in the IDF Africa Region in 2017, representing a regional prevalence of 3.3 per cent more than half (55.3 per cent) of adults living with diabetes.

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