The Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) has called on political parties to put prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the centre of their 2020 Electioneering Agenda to address the health needs of the people.
It said the NCD has been a development issue in the 21st century, it behooved political parties and politicians to invest adequately towards the strengthening of the healthcare systems in the country.
Mr Labram Musah, the National Coordinator of the GhNCDA made the call when he briefed the Ghana News Agency on a manifesto developed by civil society organisations and submitted to political parties to prioritise prevention and treatment of NCDs.
He said the manifesto was developed by the Alliance together with health experts after analyzing and studying the needs, challenges and priorities of people living with NCDs in the areas of cost of treatment, care services alongside financial risk across the continuum of care and the difficulties in accessing the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Some of the recommendations made in the manifesto were that political parties should invest in research and development, to quantify Ghana’s NCD burden and building strong evidence for prevention and control; increase ambition by developing a cross-government plan for preventing NCDs and promoting good health.
They should also develop a work-plan of policies and outcomes for each government department, running alongside the National Policy on NCDs to address the root causes of the diseases.
The parties should show ambition and boldness in utilizing taxation, regulation, and legislation to drive sustainable improvement in public health while increasing political buy-in for free, quality, and accessible universal healthcare for all without exception.
Mr Musah said the Ghana NCD Alliance and its partners stand ready to support political parties in developing and accelerating the implementation of the NCDs Civil Society Manifesto aimed at improving the health condition of all Ghanaians and reducing the NCDs burden.
The National Coordinator said the emerging evidence from the Covid-19 pandemic suggested that people living with NCDs and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, chronic respiratory disease among others were at a higher risk of becoming severely ill, getting long term complications or dying from the virus.
“The pandemic has exposed our weak health systems and lack of structures in emergencies and the inability of the world leaders including Ghana to invest in prevention and control of NCDs. These gaps are enough to call for a total reform in strengthening our health system to avert future occurrences.
“It is important to note that globally NCDs kill 41 million people. In Ghana it kills 94,400 annually according to the WHO NCD, representing 43 percent of all mortality,” Mr Musah said.
He said many people were suffering and dying due to health system failure, stigmatization, high cost of treatment and care services, and lack of affordable medicine, community support, and access to facilities among others.
Mr Musah said NCDs cut across every facet of the Ghanaian economy and by extension global economies, thus the need to prioritize NCDs in all decision-making beyond health and enact policies across all sectors to play a key role in the wellbeing of the over 28 million Ghanaians.
He said Ghana has made some progress in strengthening policy response to NCDs, which include the adoption of the Public Health Act (Tobacco Control Measures and Regulations) in 2012 and 2016, a 175 per cent tax increase on tobacco products; highest in the sub-region, the National Alcohol Policy of 2016, the National Policy and Strategy on NCDs and National Strategy for Cancer Control in 2006, and passed the Disability Act (715), adding that “However, the implementation of these national laws and policies remains weak.”
He said reducing the burden of NCDs was essential to achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana.
“The Ghana NCD Alliance and people living with NCDs all over the country request all political parties in the lead up to the 2020 December polls to invest in prevention, human right and social justice, treatment, care and support and meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs and to note that upholding the fundamental rights of humans as stated in Ghana’s Constitution also includes right to health without any discrimination or exception.”