Participants in the launch of the initiative in Accra
Participants in the launch of the initiative in Accra

Ghana to benefit from sporting initiative to reduce NCDs

Ghana has been selected as one of five countries to implement a programme that promotes physical activities through community sports to help reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs).


The other four implementing countries are Vietnam, Peru, Tanzania and Nepal. Known as the “Community Sport and Health Cooperation Initiative,” it is a joint effort by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and an international non-governmental organisation, Path.

The initiative that was launched in Accra last Friday is also expected to strengthen the role of community sports in promoting healthy lifestyles through physical activities. The event brought together stakeholders in health, and sports and representatives of sector ministries, diplomatic missions, academic institutions and civil society organisations, among others.


The programme is premised on research findings that indicate that although physical inactivity has been identified as a major contributor to NCDs, many people globally remain physically inactive.

A WHO report has established that 22 per cent of adults 18 and above, and 80 per cent of adolescents between 11 and 17, were not physically active in the country, thus, increasing their vulnerability to diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity.

Based on the worrying situation, the new global initiative targets a 15 per cent reduction in physical inactivity by 2030.

Benefit of sports

The Director, Research, Statistics and Information Management of the Ministry of Health, Dr Wisdom Atiwoto, said sports were an extremely low-cost activity, but a highly effective tool for good health.

He said if used well, it could reduce health expenditure by 50 per cent and that the initiative was in line with the national NCD strategy for 2022-2026. “It highlights multi-stakeholder collaboration and the reduction of risk factors for NCDs.

“To this end, we are open to this approach of collaboration with key stakeholders to strengthen health systems for NCDs and enhance sports for development,” the director added.

The Country Manager of Path Ghana, Dr Patience Coffie, said the NGO would serve as the secretariat for the implementation of the initiative in the country.

“The community sport and health cooperation initiative falls within a three-year technical cooperation project between the IOC and WHO.

“The initiative is led by a global steering committee comprising the IOC, WHO and Path. This committee guides the implementation of demonstrative community sports projects across multiple countries.

“This initiative is being activated concurrently in the beneficiary countries where national collectives of health and sports stakeholders will collaborate to develop and deliver community sports projects targeting over one million people across the five countries by 2025.  Additional countries will join as the project progresses,” she said.

The Associate Director of IOC’s Olympism365 Programme, Ollie Dudfield, said community sport had significant potential to promote physical activity and wider health benefits, particularly if interventions were intentionally geared towards the achievement of such outcomes. 

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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