Gov’t to expedite action on NCD policy – Health Minister

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health

With the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) projecting that 1.32 million Ghanaians are likely to be living with diabetes in Ghana by 2045, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has stated that government will expedite action on implementing the non-communicable disease (NCD) policy.

According to him, the NCD policy that is currently with Cabinet prioritises health promotion, early detection and health system strengthening as well as support to children with diabetes, so Cabinet will hasten processes to get the policy ready for action.

“Rapid economic growth over the last two decades has changed the burden of disease, and we now see more non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. The trend is likely to continue, and the International Diabetes Federation projects that by 2045 1.32 million Ghanaians will be living with diabetes.

“Children with type-1 diabetes are also increasing, which is a challenge that threatens the life expectancy of our young ones. The IDF estimates that there are 1,200 children with diabetes in Ghana. These children thus need access to quality care and safeguarded insulin to have a good quality of life,” he said.

He added that in view of the impact of NCD on public health, the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders is putting in place activities to tackle diabetes in children.

Dr. Mary Efua Commeh, Acting Head-NCD Programme, Ghana Health Service

On her part, Acting Head-NCD Programme, Ghana Health Service, Dr. Mary Efua Commeh, in an interview with the B&FT reiterated that the NCD policy – which was supposed to be implemented last year but was impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak – focuses more on preventive awareness creation.

She emphasised that NCDs, which refer to all disease conditions that are not infectious, are many; but Ghana has selected a few based on the country’s disease burden, and these include cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke and other heart-related conditions; chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, and smoking-related diseases. Others include cancers such as prostate, breast, cervical and childhood cancer; mental health, sickle-cell, dental issues.

“The highlights of the policy include prevention; and prevention here is grouped into three. The first, which is primary prevention, looks at interventions; and this seeks to create awareness and educate people on the gravity of NCDs, the need to frequent hospital in checking, for instance, blood pressure and sugar levels among others.

“NCDs are chronic, and before you start seeing the symptoms it might be too late; hence, we need to educate people so that even when they are looking very well, they still go to the health facility to examine their bodies,” she said.

The two other preventive measures, namely secondary and tertiary prevention, tackle treatment for those who have just developed infections and are at a manageable stage; and also putting in place centres at all regions; and finally, rehabilitation for people who are at the matured state of the diseases and have to live with them for the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, Dr. Commeh reiterated that unhealthy diets, alcoholism and smoking as well as lack of exercise, cumulate into what is termed unhealthy lifestyle and are the major causes of NCDs – adding that treatment is long-term and expensive, hence the need for everyone to seek professional health advice and try to shun unhealthy lifestyles.

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