Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General, of Ghana Health Services, has called on stakeholders to work together to develop sustainable funding models for Non-Communicable Diseases (NDC) management.
He said this was important as the chronic nature of NCDs, and the cost of care tended to be lifelong, further driving families and communities into poverty.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye made this known during the NDC partner’s forum held in Accra to disseminate the National NCD Policy and Strategy for 2022-2027.
It was on the theme, “Time to Act- All Hands of Deck”.
He said although the cost of NCD was largely borne by the patient, his/her family and/or providers through out-of-pocket payments, multiple efforts had been made to increase coverage by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Director General stated that reports from health facilities estimated that 43 per cent of all-cause mortality was associated with NCDs, which was a matter of great concern.
Conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cancers continue to feature prominently in the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality as reported by health facilities, he added.
He said data available to the GHS indicated that over 600,000 cases of hypertension were recorded in 2021.
This has socioeconomic implications for the country as they afflict young and old, urban, and rural, wealthy, and poor communities and as such addressing them would go a long way to enhance the status of the country, he stated.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said to address the problem, there was the need to enhance the cost of care for NCD Management, increase awareness, and address health system challenges at all levels to improve preventive and promotive care in communities.
Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are disease conditions that are not infectious and cannot be transmitted from one person to the other.
Dr Efua Commeh, the Acting Programme Manager, NCD, speaking on Ghana’s revised NCD Policy and Strategy, said the plan would help reduce exposure to risk factors that contributed to NCDs.
It would also strengthen early detection and management to reduce morbidity and mortality, prevent and control NCD, enhance multi-sectoral collaboration, and ensure sustainable funding and other resources for NCD, she added.
She said NCDs in children were on the rise just as women with obesity due to poor diet and lifestyles and called for regular physical activities among these groups.
In addressing all these, she said, “The revised NCD Policy offers the opportunity for Ghana to make progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. It however requires strong leadership and dedicated partnerships to ensure that strategic objectives can be achieved.”
Professor Alfred Yawson, Community Health University of Ghana Medical School, speaking on stakeholder partnership and collective action for NCD control, called for the development of a national research agenda that provided succinct interventions to reduce the burden of the disease.
He called on the Government to restructure the package of health services at the primary care level, increase domestic funding in the health sector and actively involve the private sector, academia, and civil society to address the problem.
Prof Yawson advised Ghanaians to take interest in their own health as most of these chronic diseases do not show any signs or symptoms until it was too late.
He again called on Imams, the clergy, the Media and politicians to talk about NCDs to encourage people to take very good care of themselves and their health.
Dr Patience Cofie, the Country Manager of PATH, a global organization, in highlighting gaps and opportunities for a targeted, coordinated NCD response, said the introduction of the navigator would help improve programming and add value to NCD initiatives in the country.
The Navigator is a dashboard which demonstrates the use of data and highlights the gaps in NCDs response as well as other diseases in the country.
Demonstrating how the navigator functions, she recommended the adoption and use of the guide as a decision-making tool for the NCD steering committee at the Ministry of Health.
Dr Cofie said this would prioritize investments in NCD prevention, detection, and management, as well as enhance and expand access to screening services for cervical cancers and diabetes mellitus across all regions.