Prioritise non communicable diseases to achieve SDGs — Discussants
Participants in a roundtable have urged the government and all stakeholders to take measures to drastically tackle Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), if the country is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
That, they said, was because, as a public health issue, NCDs, if left unchecked, could have ripple effects on other SDGs as a result of loss of human capital and increased expenditure on health care.
They were speaking at the first Annual National Dialogue for Action on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Ghana yesterday.
It was organised by the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Non-Communicable Diseases (ACE-NCDs) and the University of Ghana Hub, in partnership with the SDG Advisory Unit of the office of the President, on the theme; “Exploring the synergy between NCDs and SDGs.”
The Director of the Tobacco and Substance of Abuse Directorate of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Dr Olivia Boateng, a panellist, said there was the need for a collective approach to intensive sensitisation to NCDs as a measure to curb it.
She urged the government to demonstrate the political will to fighting NCDs, citing the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to buttress her points.
“I think what we did to COVID as a nation, when all hands were on deck to educate everybody on the safety protocols and the media attention is the way to go’’.
The way we carried everyone along during the COVID, I think that is the same dimension that we should use for the NCD dialogue”, she explained.
A Medical Epidemiologist at the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr William Bosu, said even though current statistics and indicators were showing positive signs, more had to be done to curb the risk factors of NCDs.
He, therefore, urged the government to act consciously and aggressively to set up a fund purposely for NCDs to make capital readily available to respond to issues related to NCDs.
Dr Bosu also called for the establishment of a national initiative on NCDs, as it had been done for Malaria and HIV/AIDS, among others, as a means to put non-communicable diseases, also, at the forefront of national dialogues on health.
A member of the SDG Advisory Unit at the office of the President, Dr Felix Addo-Yobo, said the government was aware of the implications of NCDs on SDGs and the country as a whole and was putting in place the appropriate measures.
“Government’s response has been to revise the national policy on NCDs taking into consideration the effects of the COVID and other issues, it has the accompanying strategy for the prevention and control of NCDs”, he explained.
Dr Addo-Yobo said the government would pursue a multi-sectorial approach to dealing with the NCDs and called on all agencies, the private sector, academia and traditional authorities to avail themselves for the fight adding; “the government cannot do this alone.”