By Patrick Biddah
The government says it is taking steps to make the treatment of non communicable diseases as part diseases that will be treated for free under the National Health Insurance .
This according to the government is to give support to the fight against Non communicable diseases which is fast killing patients and accounts for 42percent of deaths annually.
Non communicable diseases, include diabetes, hypertension, cancers, mental illness and stroke among others.
The deputy Minister for Health, Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, who dropped the hint on the plan to include non communicable diseases onto the National Health Insurance Scheme list of treatment, indicated that it forms part of efforts to provide access to health care across the country.
This effort, he added is in recognition of the challenges patients face in accessing health care and for which government is developing strategies to make accessibility people centred.
The deputy Minister, who was speaking at a press briefing which was organized by the Ghana Non Communicable Diseases Alliance in Accra ,also indicated that government has also considered the need to place taxes on tobacco and alcohol.
This additional move, he also explained is not targeted at mainly collecting revenue but just to discourage the users of these substances which have contributed to the getting of non communicable diseases.
Admitting that the idea of introducing taxes on alcohol and tobacco use may not entirely eradicate the risk and lifestyle factors which leads to acquiring these non-communicable diseases, the deputy Minister was of the view that it will go a long way to reducing the risk of getting these diseases and also discourage and shape the lifestyle of people for the better.
Wednesday’s press briefing by the Ghana Non-communicable Diseases Alliance was under the theme:”Investing In NCD prevention and control, key to achieving Ghana’s primary health care for all”.
The press briefing, also formed the inaugural national high level meeting on non-communicable diseases and was a lead up to the United Nations High Level Meeting On Universal Health Coverage which comes off in America later this month.
In a welcome address, the Chairperson for the Ghana Non Communicable Diseases Alliance, Dr Beatrice Wiafe said 21percent of premature death is from non-communicable diseases.
The challenge, however, is getting access to treatment which is the reason there is the need to bring the treatment to the doorstep of patients to mitigate complications and effects.
According to her, one of the advocacy towards reducing the mortality is to encourage the going to the hospital for testing.
She was not too happy that Ghanaians do not have the habit of going to do a routine checkup even if they look and feel fit, stressing that it is only when a check is done that an individual can be sure of his or her health status.