Health News of Sunday, 20 April 2014

Source: GNA

Ghana needs comprehensive funding mechanisms - Dr Nyarko

Dr. Kofi Nyarko, Programme Manager for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called for comprehensive funding mechanisms to finance NCDs control in Ghana.

He said NCDs have been identified as the major cause of morbidity and mortality among adults, but resources to implement these cost-effective interventions were very limited and continued to increase the burden of NCDs, which results in many premature deaths and disabilities.

Speaking at a day’s stakeholders meeting on funding mechanisms for NCDs and Tobacco Control in Ghana, in Accra, Dr. Nyarko explained that NCDs contributed significantly to illness, disability and deaths, as well as 44 per cent of premature deaths.

He noted that major NCDs of concern in Ghana were cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, and that; the major cause of death in adults was cardiovascular related diseases.

Dr. Narko said the prevalence of adult hypertension in Ghana is increasing and ranges from 30 per cent to 48 per cent, and a survey the Programme conducted revealed that over 50 per cent of people with hypertension identified were not aware of their hypertensive status.

“In fact, most of the people got to know of their BP status when they suffer a hypertensive emergency such as a heart attack and that I will describe as serious”.

For diabetes, adult diabetes is estimated around six to nine per cent whilst the major cancers that are amenable to control strategies were breast, cervical and prostate cancers, adding that, “Unfortunately in Ghana, most patients present very late to our facilities where little can be done”.

He described the NCDs as mainly lifestyle related and the absence of a national system to offer screening services to the population for early detection was worsening the situation.

“Early detection of the cases are crucial as this will ensure survival, prevent complications and also for patients to have quality of life,” he added.

He called for a national system and diagnostic equipment that will help screen the population for early detection and early treatment.

Dr. Nyarko also advocated that a health card be introduced to help ensure that bearers have regular check-ups, adding, “if this is implemented, every adult will know his or her health status and know the basic things like blood pressure, sugar level among others”.

Dr. Afisah Zakariah, Director, in charge of Planning Policy Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Health, who spoke on the Implication for financing strategies and investment, said the health sector’s finance sources were from external donors, out of pocket funding and from the Government of Ghana.

She explained that external donors were gradually withdrawing their support after Ghana was classified as a middle income country, and that, there was the need for the country to fund its own programmes.

She recommended that Ghana places more emphasis on prevention, control and treatment, intensify health education and promote healthy lifestyles.

Dr. Kyei Faried, Director of Disease Control and the Focal Point of Tobacco Control called for the implementation of the Tobacco law to sanction people who violate and smoke in public places.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, former Director-General of GHS, Mr. Yileh Chireh, former Minister of Health and a Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, reiterated the need for the country to introduce health cards for all citizens to address their health needs.