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Non-Communicable Diseases Killing More Ghanaians

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Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has been identified as the leading cause of deaths in Ghana due to the proliferation of junk foods and inadequate physical activities among the public.

Dr. Denis Odai Laryea, the Programmes Manager for NCD at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) who said this in Accra on Friday, noted that though the diseases affected a large portion of the public, not much were recorded at Out Patients Department (OPD) in various health facilities.

He attributed the rise in NCDs such as hypertension to the low literacy levels of the risk factors and prevention of NCDs among Ghanaians, leading to the stigmatisation of persons affected by illnesses such as stroke and diabetes.

Dr Laryea was speaking at the launch of the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme, which is an initiative of AstraZeneca, a global science-led biopharmaceutical company committed to tackling hypertension and decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases in Africa.

“A large proportion of the public are not aware of their Blood Pressure (BP) status, many people are walking around undiagnosed, and that is why people die of non-communicable disease all of a sudden,” he said.

He said in Africa, it was estimated that about 150 million people would be affected with hypertension by 2025, with a large number of them being males, and advised Ghanaians to cultivate the habit of going for regular health checks especially, for blood pressures and blood sugar to avoid sudden health complications and deaths.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, observed that in Ghana hypertension has consistently featured in the top ten reasons for OPD cases over the past three decades.

The GHS, he said, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AstraZeneca to pilot the HHA project in the Ashanti Region, to screen people for high blood pressure and link them with care.

He indicated that with the launch of the HHA, Ghana joins the likes of Kenya and Tanzania and becomes the third country to sign on to the project.

He thanked AstraZeneca for making the necessary financial commitments to the project, saying the GHS through its NCD prevention and control programme would work with the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate to see to the successful implementation of the project.

Dr Ashling Mulvaney, Global Head Sustainability and Strategy of HAA, said the extension of the project into Ghana was a major milestone which would enable the country raise awareness and provide sustainable measures to support local health systems to screen and prevent NCDs.

Professor Plange Rhule, the Chairman of the NCD Steering Committee at the Ministry of Health (MOH), said reducing the rates of NCDs was a top priority for the Ministry which was presently reviewing policies and strategies on the management of these disease, to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

He said the Health Ministry was however committed to working to improve the hypertension and non-communicable disease detection rates in the country.

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