Editorial: Government must provide funds to tackle Non-Communicable Diseases

A Senior Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Elliot Koranteng Tannor, has called for more funds to be made available for tackling Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). He noted that globally, lesser funds are pumped into the prevention of these diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Non-Communicable Diseases kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. Each year, 17 million people die from an NCD before age 70; 86% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Of all NCD deaths, 77% are in low- and middle-income countries.

However, Dr. Tannor observes that less than 1% of all global health funding is invested on Non-Communicable Diseases prevention. “Now it’s the Non-Communicable Diseases that are killing us more and the communicable diseases are reducing.

Focus has always been on malaria, HIV and Covid-19 because policy makers and governments know that when people are getting the covid it is communicable and we can get it but non communicable is not looked at in that way,” he said.

Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory conditions have emerged as silent epidemics, affecting millions of Ghanaians. These diseases are often chronic, requiring long-term care and imposing substantial financial burdens on individuals, families and the healthcare system. The consequences extend far beyond the health sector, impacting workforce productivity and economic stability.

The urgency of addressing NCDs is underscored by the fact that they are responsible for a significant proportion of morbidity and mortality in Ghana. Moreover, NCDs often strike individuals in their prime years, causing premature deaths and diminishing the country’s human capital potential. This not only affects the affected individuals and their families but also hinders national development.

The Chronicle believes that while Ghana has made commendable efforts in tackling infectious diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, the response to NCDs has lagged behind. The allocation of resources, both financial and human, to combat NCDs has not kept pace with the growing prevalence and impact of these diseases.

Investing in the prevention, early detection and management of NCDs is not just a healthcare imperative; but also an economic necessity. Health experts have rightly called for increased funding to bolster NCD prevention and control efforts. This funding can be channeled into various initiatives educating the public about the risk factors and preventive measures for NCDs are paramount.

Increased funding can support robust awareness campaigns that promote healthier lifestyles, early diagnosis is key to managing NCDs effectively. Investment in screening programs and accessible healthcare services can ensure timely detection and intervention.

Also, healthcare professionals need training and resources to address NCDs effectively. Funding can be allocated to strengthen the healthcare workforce’s capacity in this regard. The allocation of more funding to combat NCDs is an investment in the health and future of our nation. It demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of all Ghanaians and an acknowledgment of the significant societal and economic costs associated with NCDs.

As we support the call by health experts for increased funding, we also emphasise the importance of a multi-sectoral approach. Collaboration between the health sector, policymakers, civil society, and the private sector is essential to develop and implement effective strategies to prevent and control NCDs. Addressing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases requires a proactive and well-funded approach.

The Chronicle calls on government to heed the call for increased funding to combat NCDs. By doing so, we can create a healthier and more prosperous future for all citizens, strengthening both our public health and our nation’s economic resilience.


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