Three aspiring members of parliament have pledged to become advocates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
At separate meetings, the aspiring MPs agreed to raise issues of NCDs at every forum that will present itself, including the floor of parliament, to intensify the awareness creation as well as the promotion of a healthy life style.
The aspiring MPs for Okaikoi-Central-Abdul Rashid Issah, Ayawaso West Wuogon –John Dumelo and La Dadekotopon-Michel Bowman Amuah, made the declaration when a team from the Ghana NCDs Alliance (GhNCDA) presented to them a copy of the Ghana NCDs Manifesto at their respective offices.
Ghana NCDs Manifesto is aimed at ensuring that all political parties and politicians increasingly recognize and prioritize NCDs prevention, treatment, care and support as a development issue in the 21st century and invest adequately towards strengthening healthcare systems to address the health burden associated with NCDs.
The leader of the team and Chairman of the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health (MATCOH), Jeorge Wilson Kingson, who presented the document noted that the major NCDs in Ghana are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory and sickle cell diseases. Adding that the first four share common risk factors namely, tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. He therefore pleaded with Ghanaians to consider a lifestyle change and stay healthy.
He explained that the Ghana NCDs Alliance is on a mission to ensure that the government pays attention to NCDs issues and to achieve this “we need to create awareness among politicians especially law makers so that when issues of NCDs are tabled on the floor of parliament the MPs will buy into it”.
We want resources to be allocated to the fight against NCDs and we can’t do this without your help,” he pleaded.
Katherine Berko, a member of the Alliance, added that the National Insurance Scheme seem not to favour people living with NCDs as they are being neglected and sometimes turned away whenever they visit the hospital.
It is our hope that the NHIS will be relooked at to ensure that its initial purpose is achieved by attending to the needs of the masses especially those living with NCDs,” she prayed.
At the offices of the Okaikoi Central Parliamentary hopeful, Abdul Rashid Issah, he promised to personally take up the issues of NCDs on the floor of parliament when voted to represent the people of Okaikoi Central.
I believe in healthy living so I will personally take it up and do my best to help find a solution,” he pledged.
He further urged the Alliance to intensify its awareness among members of keep fit clubs adding that most members of such group have very bad eating habits especially after keeping fit.
On his part, the aspiring MP for La Dadekotopon, Michel Bowman Amuah, said he totally supports any measures that seek to address NCDs stressing that his campaign team has already been preaching on issues of NDCs to the electorates.
We know the limit to what we can do but we need to sow a seed so others could emulate,” stressed Amuah.
He announced that as part of his commitment to NCDs, he will soon organize a screen and clean campaign where members of his constituency would be screened free of charge to ensure early detection and treatment. “This initiative will also be supported with a weekly clean up exercise,” he added.
In addition, the Ayawaso West Wougon parliamentary hopeful, John Dumelo pledged that “NCDs are issues that I will push in our outside parliament”.
The aspiring parliamentary candidate for the Dome Kwabenya Constituency, Sarah Adwoa Safo, who has done a lot on health for members of her constituency, recognized the importance of the role of an MP in promoting NCDs and promised to work harder to ensure that NCDs are brought to the fore.
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, 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 28 million Ghanaians.
The Ghana NCDs Manifesto 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.
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 stressed.
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.
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.