The leader of the Coalition of Independent Presidential Aspirants (CIPA), Kofi Koranteng, has pledged to prioritize issues of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) if elected president of the republic in the December 2020 polls.
The aspiring presidential candidate promised to mount a desk at the presidency to be responsible for issues of NCDs, explaining that the move will help his government to address issues of Non-Communicable Diseases in the country.
Koranteng made the promise when a team from the Ghana NCDs Alliance (GhNCDA) presented to him a copy of the Ghana NCDs Manifesto aimed at ensuring that all political leaders increasingly recognize and prioritize NCDs prevention, treatment, care and support as a development issue in the 21st century as well as invest adequately towards strengthening healthcare systems to address the health burden associated with NCDs.
“Issues of NCDs are big passion for me so I will provide an office at the presidency for the Alliance to help address NCDs issues, it is a promise and I will do it,” he stated.
The presidential aspirant also assured that when elected into office, he will amend the National Health Insurance Act to allow children under 5 years and adults who are 50 years and over to undergo regular medical checkups at no cost to them.
NHIS will be upgraded to allow children under 5years and over 50years to undertake a free three-month regular medical checkups,” he promised, adding that “We will fund these activities by judiciously applying and protecting the national resources to ensure that there is enough to tackle NCD issues”.
Presenting the document, the leader of the team and Chairman of the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health (MATCOH), Jeorge Wilson Kingson, said, NCDs are the most pressing public health challenges facing the current generations and possibly future generation if measures are not taken to address them now.
It is one of the reasons why we are meeting you to draw the needed attention to the urgency of the situation,” he noted.
He stated that the document was developed together with 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 protection across the continuum of care, unavailability and challenges faced in accessing the National Health Insurance Scheme, among others.
These make it practically impossible for people living with NCDs to access quality healthcare for a wide group of disease conditions for the poorest and most vulnerable populations at all levels, as well as achievement of the primary healthcare for all,” Kingson emphasized.
Emerging evidence from the Covid-19 pandemic clearly suggests that people living with NCDs and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases among others are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill, getting long term complications or dying from the Covid-19.
Francis Essien, a member of the Alliance, reiterated the need to embark on intensive education to create the needed awareness to ensure a lifestyle change and the need to for a regular medical checkups. He urged Kofi Koranteng to consider an affordable testing of sugar levels for all to ensure early detection of diabetes and treatment.
The pandemic has exposed the weak health systems and lack of structures in emergency situations 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.
Globally, NCDs kill 41 million people and in Ghana, it kills 94,400 annually representing 43% of all mortality, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) NCD Progress Report. Many are dying and suffering due to health system failure, stigmatization, and high cost of treatment and care services, lack of affordable medicine and treatment options and community support, and access to facilities etc.
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 30 million Ghanaians.