The flagbearer of the Liberal People's Party (LPG), Kofi Akpaloo, says he will champion the cause of People Living With Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCDs) when he becomes the president of Ghana from 2021.
"We [LPG] will take it upon ourselves to talk about NCDs when we go on radio and TV, it is a promise we are making and we will make sure we deliver on it" he stated.
Akpaloo made the pledge when a team of advocates from the Ghana NCDs Alliance (GhNCDA) presented to him a copy of the Ghana NCDs Manifesto to him last week. The document aims to ensure 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 burdens associated with NCDs.
"My government will adopt and own this document and we will fall on you to be part of the implementation," he stated.
Akpaloo further said his government will take NCD issues seriously just as the Europeans have done in their countries by developing workplan and policies to address the root cause of NCDs.
To achieve this, he noted that his party – the Liberal Party of Ghana has already captured it in their manifesto to provide free medical care to the unemployed. "It's part of our manifesto to provide free medical care to the unemployed and this includes NCDs," he emphasized.
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 killing Ghanaians and it is the hope of the Alliance that there would be the political will to help curb the dangers imposed by NCDs.
“We are really looking up to the people of Ghana voting you as President. We are hoping that when voted into office, you will marshal the political will to help tackle NCDs to prevent needless deaths,” he prayed.
Globally, NCDs kill 41 million people and in Ghana, it kills 94,400 annually representing 43% of all mortalities, 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.
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.
“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 total reform in strengthening our health system to avert future occurrences.