NCDs Civil Society Manifesto Working together: Putting NCDs at the Centre of Ghana’s 2020 Election Agenda

In the light of the forthcoming 2020 General Elections, the Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) has submitted a civil society’s (CSOs) Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) Manifesto aimed at ensuring 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 burden associated with NCDs.

These we believe are the most pressing public health challenges for current and future generations. The document was developed together with our 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. This makes 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 health care for all.

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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 our 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.

NCDs Civil Society Manifesto Working together: Putting NCDs at the Centre of Ghana’s 2020 Election Agenda
NCDs Civil Society Manifesto Working together: Putting NCDs at the Centre of Ghana’s 2020 Election Agenda

It is important to note that globally NCDs kill 41 million people. In Ghana, it kills 94,400 annually according to the WHO NCD Progress representing 43% of all mortality.

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.

Ghana has made some progress in strengthening policy response to NCDs. These include the adoption of the Public Health Act (Tobacco Control Measures and Regulations) in 2012 and 2016, a 175% tax increase on tobacco products; highest in the sub-region, the National Alcohol Policy of 2016, the National Policy and Strategy on NCDs and National Strategy for Cancer Control in 2006, passed the Disability Act (Act 715). However, the implementation of these national laws and policies remains weak. Reducing the burden of NCDs is essential to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana.

The Ghana NCD Alliance and people living with NCDs all over the country request all political parties in the lead up to the 2020 December polls to invest in prevention, human right and social justice, treatment care and support and meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs and to note that upholding the funda­mental rights of humans as stated in Ghana’s Constitution also includes right to health without any discrimination or exception.

It is also important to note the following:

  • Placing multi-sectoral collaboration at the heart of the NCD response means working together and winning together.
  • Invest in research and development to quantify Ghana’s NCD burden and build strong evidence for NCD prevention and control, currently highly inadequate.
  • Increase ambition by developing a cross-government plan for preventing Non-communicable diseases and promoting good health.
  • Develop a work-plan of policies and outcomes for each government department, running alongside the National Policy on non-communicable diseases. The plan must meaningfully address the root causes of NCDs.

Further, political parties should show ambition and boldness in utilizing taxation, regulation, and legislation –these have been proven to be the most effective tools for driving sustained improvements in population health.

Finally, we urge all political parties to effectively adopt and implement the recommendations to exhibit the ambition and boldness necessary to prioritize, protect, and promote the public’s health.

We call for increased political buy-in for free, quality, and accessible universal healthcare for all without exception.

The Ghana NCD Alliance and its partners stand ready to support political parties in developing and accelerating the implementation of the NCDs Civil Society Manifesto aimed at improving the health condition of all Ghanaians and reducing the Non-communicable diseases burden.

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