Dr Raphael Awuah (right), a co-investigator of the CARE Diabetes team, making his presentation at a dissemination meeting of the study on diabetes  held in Accra
Dr Raphael Awuah (right), a co-investigator of the CARE Diabetes team, making his presentation at a dissemination meeting of the study on diabetes held in Accra

60% Ga Mashie residents have hypertension, diabetes

A study on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) conducted at Ga Mashie in Accra has revealed that six out of 10 residents in that area had either hypertension, diabetes or were obese.

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Particularly, for diabetes, the study found that the prevalence was 8.2 per cent while hypertension prevalence increased by 19 per cent between 2013 and 2023.

It found out that those with diabetes had a lower quality of life compared to those without diabetes.

The study was conducted by the Contextual Awareness Response and Evaluation; Diabetes in Ghana (CARE Diabetes) project team, made up of people from the University of Ghana, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, UHAS and with funding from MRC of the UK Research and Innovation.

The aim of the study was to generate contextual understandings of diabetes in Ga-Mashie and identify opportunities for community-based intervention strategies for diabetes prevention and control.

Adults aged 25 years and above across 80 enumeration areas drawn from the 2021 Ghana Population and Housing Census were randomly sampled for the study.

Knowledge of diabetes

At a dissemination meeting of the study held in Accra yesterday, a co-investigator of the CARE Diabetes team, Dr Raphael Awuah, who presented the findings together with Dr Sandra Boatemaa Kushitor, said the study identified that though knowledge of the causes of diabetes was fairly high in the community, there were some misconceptions.

He said it further found out that while average income in the area was very low around less than GHc600, for those with diabetes in the community, they were spending 85 per cent of this income to manage their condition.

It found that majority of them were not on health insurance and so they were paying directly out of their pockets to seek health care.

“There is plethora of healthcare service providers but one-third of those living with diabetes were seeking care from biomedical sources,” the findings of the study revealed.

He said they identified from the study that there was an abundance of unhealthy foods in the community and so the people consumed what was accessible to them.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic later about the implications of the study, Dr Awuah described the findings as scary considering the fact that aside from the three NCDs that were found there, communicable diseases were also prevalent which meant they had what was known in health cycles as double burden of disease.

“They have a high burden of communicable diseases and a high burden of NCDs just as our study has found. The implication is that health outcomes in this community will be very poor because, you find people suffering from communicable and non-communicable diseases there,” he said.

He called on all stakeholders, including the NCD division of the Ghana Health Service, to give special attention and focus on communities such as Ga Mashie that were urban poor when considering plans, strategies and actions to reduce the burden of NCDs in the country.

On the way forward after the findings, Dr Awuah said the CARE Diabetes project would implement a pilot intervention programme that would include getting residents of the community subscribed to the NHIS.

A co-investigator of the CARE Diabetes team, Professor Kwadwo Koram, said diabetes had become a problem not only in Ghana but the world over, adding that in some regions of the country, prevalence was getting to 10 per cent.

He said unlike infectious diseases, people might not even be aware they had NCDs, pointing out that it was sad that the youth, whom as children were saved against vaccine preventable diseases were now succumbing to NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Giving an overview of the study, a co-investigator of CARE Diabetes, Professor Ed Fottrell, said they measured the weight, height, waist circumference and took the blood pressure and random blood glucose of participants as part of the study.

Also measured as part of the study, he said, were their care-seeking and healthcare expenditure; diabetes knowledge and sociodemographic.

He called for an urgent response to dealing with non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, in Ghana as well as the world over and also for the team to ensure that there was improved health through interventions that were designed with the community in mind.

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Responding to the low NHIS registration in Ga Mashie, the Assemblyman for the Ngleshie Electoral Area, Festus Nii Ayi Hayford, said education on health insurance in the community was not enough and called for the intensification of the education in the community.

He said some residents complained of frustrations they went through trying to access healthcare services using the health insurance, especially at the public hospitals.

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