They made the call at a day’s stakeholders meeting on the draft National NCD Policy organized by the Ghana NCD Alliance in collaboration with the NCD Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Friday.
The meeting, which was attended by persons in academia, health professionals, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, representatives of the Ghana Police Service and PLWNCDs was used to dialogue and to make inputs into the policy and strategies for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.
It was also to garner stakeholders support and commitment to implement the recommendations in the Ghana Advocacy Agenda of PLWNCDs.
The policy was drafted by the NCD Control Programme of the GHS to improve upon the previous one, which was launched in 2014.
Dr Efua Commeh and Dr Dennis Laryea both of the GHS led in the discussion of the draft policy.
Dr Commeh said the first policy on NCDs was launched in 2014 in response to the increasing recognition of the diseases as a significant public health issue.
She said several successes were achieved during the implementation of that policy, which include the promulgation of the Public Health Act with a section on Tobacco Control Measures, the passage of the Tobacco Control Regulations (LI 2247) and inclusion of some NCDs in Ghana’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response.
Others were the constitution of a Multi-sectoral NCD Steering Committee, development of National Cancer Treatment Guidelines, inclusion of some NCDs in the benefit packages of the National Health Insurance Scheme, development of Tobacco Cessation Guidelines and development of a National Alcohol Policy.
“These achievements notwithstanding, there remain several challenges to NCD prevention and control in Ghana. Key among these are weak data collection systems for NCDs, poor funding of NCD-related activities particularly preventive and health promotion.
“In addition to these, poor funding for the NCD Control Programme (NCDCP) and the lack of adequate numbers of staff for the programme presents challenges to programme planning and implementation to achieve policy and strategic objectives,” She said.
Dr Commeh said the weak NCDCP also meant that it was unable to coordinate NCD-related activities in the country, which resulted in erratic implementation of activities on NCD prevention and control by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders.
She said these therefore, called for the need to consolidate the gains achieved in the previous policy and strategy and to institute measures to address the challenges and also align the policy to current best practices.
“This policy document seeks to give guidance to efforts at reducing the burden of NCDs in Ghana, by focusing on NCDs determined to be of public health importance to the country. These are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancers, injury, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases including asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health conditions, sickle cell disease and kidney,” Dr Commeh said.