Ghana NCD Alliance calls for sustainable health financing for NCDs

at the ongoing 77th Session of the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA77) in New York City, USA.

 

Ghana is mapped as global leader in the prevention and control of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs); having co-hosted the International Strategic Dialogue (ISD) on NCDs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) early this year as well as the adoption of a National NCD Policy and Strategy and the mainstreaming of NCDs in the National Development Planning Commission’s Medium Term National Development Policy Framework 2022-2025 etc. and by virtue of Ghana’s President, H.E Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo being one of the Co-Chairs of Eminent Group of Advocates for UN SDGs etc., Ghana is in a prominent position to pioneer discussions that improve global efforts towards NCDs prevention and control.

NCDs account for nearly 80% of deaths in low- and middle-income countries however, about only 1-2% of the global health funding is dedicated to preventing and treating NCDs. A rapid assessment done by the World Health Organization (WHO) divulges that 75% of countries reported interruptions to NCD services, meanwhile the extreme loss of lives among persons living with NCDs (estimated between 60%-90% of COVID-19 deaths) as well as the economic derails experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that the prevention, and treatment of NCDs are indispensable to every nation’s development.

In many countries especially developing economies, treatment for NCDs cost people living with/affected by NCDs huge out-of-pocket payment, severely impacting their household earnings.

Where public health systems are weak, payment for care can trap poor households in a cycle of debt, illness and extreme poverty, thus people living with NCDs are more likely to be absent from work, become unemployed or retire early. On human capital, NCDs ends 15 million lives every year prematurely, and thus reduces labour supply while increasing absenteeism in the workforce due to NCD-related illness and disability. NCDs impede the educational attainment of children and adolescents, and makes it impossible for caregivers to participate in the labour market. In view of such evidence, the World Economic Forum has ranked NCDs among the top global threats to economic development.

WHO estimates that an investment of under $1 per person per year in cost-effective measures to prevent and treat NCDs could save 7 million lives in LMICs by 2030. Urgent government action is needed to meet global targets to reduce the burden of NCDs, including SDG 3.4, which seeks to reduce one third premature mortality from NCDs by 2030 through prevention, treatment and the promotion of mental health and well-being. The socioeconomic costs associated with NCDs make the prevention and control of these diseases a major development crucial for the 21st Century. Investment in NCDs has a potential to save and improve lives by 2030: most of the 15 million annual NCD deaths in LMICs of people between 30-70 years can be prevented or delayed. Sadly, to date the necessary shift in prioritizing and committing to NCDs financing on the global, and in most national development agendas is yet to be achieved.

It is thus imperative for Ghana to make the most of our current stands as a global lead in NCDs prevention and control to promote the NCDs agenda globally and attract support for NCDs interventions. In view of this, the Ghana NCD Alliance echo the following as part of key calls to action for consideration as Ghana chairs the 1st Presidential Group Meeting on NCDs and SDGs at the ongoing UNGA77:
1. That countries prioritize NCDs as a paramount national development issue and include NCDs interventions within a holistic development agenda, taking cognizance that investing adequately in NCDs is synonymous with investing in the economy.

2. Ghana should galvanize the support of other countries to advocate for the inclusion of NCDs as a key component of the Global Fund which currently supports interventions on HIV/AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis etc.

3. To advocate for NCDs integration into established disease- specific programs such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs etc. for a better and comprehensive health outcome.

4. Urge countries to prioritize/commit to financing health through taxing health harming products such as tobacco, alcohol, sugar sweetened beverages as well as polluting industries; as these products increase the disease burden, healthcare cost and exacerbate poverty level.

5. That countries increase the level of meaningful involvement of the lived experiences of people living with NCDs and CSOs actors as key stakeholders in decision policy formulations.

Finally, in lead up to the 2nd Global Dialogue on Sustainable Funding for NCD Prevention and Control scheduled to take place in 2023, it is essential for governments to prioritize planning and negotiations that lead to real commitments and progress and avoid vain resolutions.

“It is our greatest vision to bring financial relief to people living with/affected by NCDs, while striving relentlessly to create a healthy world free from NCDs”.

Labram Musah
National Coordinator: Ghana NCD Alliance
[email protected] / [email protected]
0243211854

For more information and interviews contact

Ophelia Allotey
Communications Officer: Ghana NCD Alliance
[email protected]
0545058124

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