Members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on government to allocate resources to health activities to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.
They said NCDs were on the increase and identified alcohol and tobacco consumption as major factors to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, respiratory diseases, stroke among others.
They said for the past two years government had not released funds for agencies and organisations to undertake health awareness creation among the public and that had been the bane for the disease prevention in the country.
The CSOs made the call at the end of a meeting organised by the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) to strategise ways to scale-up awareness on the dangers of alcohol and tobacco consumption.
It was also to update the members of the CSOs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of health. The meeting was facilitated by the Framework Convention ALLIANCE, NCD Alliance and the Norwegian Cancer Society.
Mr Issah Ali, the Executive Director of the VALD told the members of the CSOs that the time had come for them to build strong partnerships to make government aware of the challenges they faced as they carried out health awareness creation and to demand resources to fill in the gaps.
He said alcohol and tobacco consumption had increased among the people and major causes of NCDs and poverty, which there was the need for government to make funds available to support agencies and organisations to carry out awareness programmes.
Ms Jane Amedzro of the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme (NCDCP) of the Disease Control Unit of the Ghana Health Service at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital who presented a paper on “NCDs Situation in Ghana” said the NCDCP was facing a number of challenges, mentioning some of the problems as funding, transportation and staffing, which had led to erratic implementation of planned activities.
Ms Amedzro called for funding, the improvement of staffing, the review of the Ghana NCD Strategy, training of staff, establishment of NCDCP in the regions and the provision of NCD-related health education materials.
She said the NCDCP was established by the Ministry of Health in 1992 to respond to the growing burden of NCDs and virus and was to design, monitor and coordinate interventions to reduce the incidence and prevalence of NCDS. Ms Amedzro said: “The NCDCP is to ensure the burden of NCDs (morbidity and mortality) was reduced to the barest minimum so as to render it of little public health importance and an obstacle to socio-economic development.”
Mr Labram Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD made a presentation on “Tobacco and Alcohol: A Major NCDs Risk Factor within the SDGs” He said Ghana was among the first countries to sign the World Health Organisation (WHO), which was the first Public Health Law in the world aimed at protecting present and future generations from the consequences of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Mr Musah said there was the need for government to provide funds to raise awareness on health and additional risks and dangers associated with the use and exposure to the smoke from tobacco.
He said that would help in the pursuance of the SDGs goal 3.4 which talked about ensuring healthy life and promoting the well-being of individuals globally. The Programmes Director said the support for awareness creation on the tobacco products was crucial for the achievement of the SDGs by one-third reduction of premature death by 2030 and a solution to the numerous challenges posed in the areas health, labour, agriculture and trade.
“Apart from the heavy economic burden that tobacco imposed on the nation and decreased productivity, it exacerbated health inequalities and poverty as the tobacco industry targeted the youth,” he said.