The much awaited policy strategy for the management, prevention and control of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country is expected to come into force before the end of 2020, but this is after it has passed the litmus test in Cabinet.
According to Dr. Gyan Awuah Barffour who is the Special Advisor to the Minister of Health “The final draft has been submitted to the Ministry of Health. The Ministry will forward this to Cabinet for approval. It is only when it comes back from Cabinet then we will share with the general public.”
The Ghana Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA), a coalition of Civil Society Organizations in health, however thinks that the move by government is long overdue and must not be delayed for that long.
Dr. Awuah Barffour gave the assurance when he made a presentation on behalf of the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on the topic: Non-Communicable Diseases and its Impact on Public Health at a media engagement and training for journalist on NCDs by the Ghana NCD Alliance. It was part of activities by the Alliance to mark this year’s World Cancer day which fell on February 4.
He observed that there were four to five pillars in NCDs in general which the document speaks to including dealing with hypertension and reducing incidence of life style risk factors, diabetes, cancers, injuries, sickle cell diseases, the genetic non-communicable diseases among others.
The policy is supposed to provide guidelines for the management and treatment these diseases in Ghana. There has been a vacuum in this area since the last Ghana NCD Alliance policy expired in 2017 and the Civil Society Organizations in health have been knocking on the doors of government for a new one for all this while.
According to Dr. Awuah Barffour, the new document is a comprehensive one which does not only contain the policies but also have the strategies to be adopted to get the disease under control.
”This time we didn’t develop only the policies. So we have the policies and strategies together. If we pick hypertension, we talk about the risk factors, how to manage it, early detection and the strategy to do all these things are all there. So it is a comprehensive document that we are looking at.” He indicated.
The new policy is dwelling more on how to prevent some of the NCDs like lifestyle, diet, physical inactivity and then alcohol and substance abuse.
Meanwhile the CSOs in health are not happy with the fact that the policy was going to take effect later in the year when it has been long overdue.
According the CSOs, they are a bit disappointed because in 2017 the old policy expired and they were hoping a review will be done to know where there were shortfalls. That was not done but we were told a new one was being developed. They have been waiting for the policy since 2017, 2018 and 2019 only to be told that it will come into force by the end of the year.
“It will not be appropriate for us to keep this document till the end of this year. We were thinking that at least between two and three weeks, Ghana could have a policy direction as far as NCD is concerned. Otherwise, this whole talk about non-communicable diseases will come to not.” Said Labram Musah, National Coordinator of the Ghana NCD Alliance.
Source: Clement Akoloh || africanewsradio.com