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94,000 die annually from non-communicable diseases – Report

The Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCDA) has raised concerns about the alarming but preventable deaths of some 94,000 persons from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Ghana each year.

The alliance last Tuesday launched the Ghana Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs, with an appeal to government and other stakeholders in the health delivery system to pay increased attention to persons living with NCDs.

The advocacy group called for the availability of comprehensive services for early detection, diagnosis, treatment, psychological, rehabilitative and palliative care for those people living with NCDs. 

NCDs, which present themselves in the form of cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, are responsible for 43 per cent of all deaths in Ghana. 

The alliance contends that the treatment of NCDs warrants a huge cost that extends beyond health, undermines workforce productivity and economic prosperity of the country.

According to GhNCDA, promoting healthy diets, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco control, as well as combating air pollution through cost-effective measures are critical to reducing premature deaths and disability from NCDs.

Co-ordinator of the alliance, Mr Labram Musah reminded stakeholders in the health delivery system that “Ghana cannot afford to exclude NCDs from its national health and development agenda any longer; it cannot also ignore the role that those people living with NCDs must play in the shaping of policy to fight an epidemic”.

Joshua Makubu, a person living with disability and an advocate who contributed to the building of the Ghana Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs, noted that “we can only put a dent on the NCD epidemic when we confront head on the ignorance and misconception around them by giving voice to those people most impacted by and living with non-NCDs”.

He insisted that the response to NCDs had to be people first, pointing out that “people living with NCDs have a right to participate in the decision-making processes that affect our lives, and we need the enforcement of laws that protect our communities and access to quality healthcare within the confines of the universal rights to healthcare”. 

Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Alexander Kwodwo Kom Abban said the ministry was making NCD prevention and control a key priority, and will ensure that the draft National NCD Policy is completed and adopted according to the deadline. 

“Efforts are being made to ensure that treatment of some NCDs are captured under the National Health Insurance Scheme as a way of alleviating the burden of people living with NCDs with regard to economic costs and access to healthcare,” the Deputy Minister assured.

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