Some physicians and specialists have recommended the scaling-up of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Care programme to more hospitals across the country.
This is to increase access to healthcare for people living with hypertension and diabetes.
These advocates are from the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge Hospital), the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), and the 37 Military Hospital.
They have been taking care of more than 400 patients living with non-communicable diseases in the Greater Accra Region through the NCD Care Mobile App.
The App was developed through a partnership with PharmAccess Foundation, Luscii Healthtech, and the UGMC to complement Ghana’s NCD strategy in tandem with the National Health Policy.
With the NCD Care programme, patients can measure and input their blood pressure and blood sugar levels/vitals in the mobile App, which enable their doctors to receive automatic alerts, providing information on the patients’ health condition.
This enables the doctors to reach out to their patients via phone or messages as soon as risks are detected.
At a meeting to review the programme at Kwahu in the Eastern Region on Tuesday, Dr Emmanuel Amoah, the NCD programme lead, UGMC, said one key challenge the NCD App helped to address was overcrowding in health facilities.
“Patients don’t have to come to the hospital every time; just to get their blood pressure and blood sugar readings analyzed; the App closes the gap between us and the patients,” he said.
Before the introduction of the Care Programme, monitoring of patients with hypertension and diabetes was difficult, Dr Amoah said.
“We used to give them BP profile sheets and hoped that they would check every morning and evening. As at the time they leave and the next visit, we didn’t know what was happening.”
He said he was excited that doctors could now monitor the patient’s condition remotely and in real-time to prevent fatal complications.
“The user experience so far has been positive, with testimonies about the platform’s user-friendliness and the convenience it provides for patients,” Dr Amoah said.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer are leading causes of death worldwide, representing an emerging global health threat.
The World Health Organisation has predicted that by 2030 NCDs are expected to become the leading cause of death in Africa.
In Ghana, hypertension is a major cause of medical emergencies such as heart and kidney failures.
Meanwhile, Dr Maxwell Antwi, the Country Director for PharmAccess Foundation, in a media interview, observed that both diabetes and hypertension were lifestyle diseases that could be managed if patients adopted healthy lifestyles.
He said the pilot phase of the NCD Care programme had offered stakeholders the opportunity to conduct a critical assessment of the mobile App, review patients and doctors’ feedback, and recommend solutions.
At the scale-up phase, stakeholders would explore creative ways of onboarding new patients, and create more self-management videos and informative tools for patients, Dr Antwi said.
“This mobile App will revolutionise NCD Care in Ghana. We want to work hard to make the App versatile and more user-friendly, synchronising it with communication apps like WhatsApp and other messaging apps on phones,” he said.
He cautioned the public to reduce salt intake to avoid getting hypertension and diabetes, noting that “salted fish including koobi, kako, and momone are highly salted and not good for our health.”
The App would have in-built educational information like stress management, foot care, exercise information, and healthy heart diet tutorials to enhance user experience during the scale-up phase.