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Non-Communicable Diseases are barriers to attaining MDGs – GHS

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MDGsNon-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are major barriers to the attainment of the Millennium  Development Goals (MDGs), Dr William Bosu, Programmes Manager at the Ghana Health Service in charge of NCDs has said.

The NCDs, he said, include Hypertension, Diabetes, Asthma, Breast Cancer, and Sickle Cell disease, while the MDGs also include the reduction of poverty and child mortality, improvement of maternal health, and the combat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Dr Bosu made the remarks when he launched the Second Health Week celebration of the Central University College branch of the Ghana Pharmaceutical Students Association (GPSA) at the College’s Campus at Miotso near Prampram, on the theme: “The Burden of NCDs-The Role of the Pharmacy student.”

He said model data on NCDs in Ghana indicated those diseases accounted for an estimated 34 per cent of deaths, and 31 per cent of disease burden in the country.

Dr Bosu regretted that NCDs killed an estimated 86,200 persons in Ghana annually, with 55.5 per cent of the deaths aged less than 70 years and 58 per cent of them being males.

He said available institutional data on Out Patient Department (OPD) in Ghana, indicate that the number of newly diagnosed out-patient hypertension cases in public health institutions, excluding Korle- Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals, increased 12-fold from about 60,000  in 1990 to about 700,000 in 2010.

On diabetes, Dr Bosu disclosed that reported cases of the disease increased 13-fold from about 25,000 in 2002 to about 160,000 in 2010.

He disclosed that NCD surveys in the country indicated that  between 10 per cent and 48 per cent of adults had hypertension, with less than 10 per cent of the patients being able to control the disease.

Dr Bosu said it was regrettable that about 70 per cent of hypertension patients also found to have Diabetes were unaware of their condition.

He said the NCD policy response included primary prevention (tobacco, diet, physical activity, alcohol and immunization); early detection and a Clinical care; health service strengthening (training of health workers and developing human resource capacity).

Others, he said, were the provision of essential drugs and supplies; the integration of NCD plans into wider health systems planning; ensuring financial mechanisms that enhanced improved allocation and efficient use of funds; research and development, and the surveillance of NCDs and their risk factors.

He reminded Pharmacists of their crucial role in controlling NCDS in the country, and said they were expected to embark on health education about the diseases, and conduct screening at the community level.

Delivering a paper on “Diabetes and its Complications” at a symposium after the launch, Dr Ellen Sam, Clinical Pharmacist, explained that “Diabetes is a progressive chronic metabolic disorder characterized by persistent high blood sugar, due to the lack of sufficient insulin.”

Dr Sam said available data on Diabetes indicated that over 285 million people are living with the disease worldwide, adding that in Ghana, prevalence rate was approximately 6.5 per cent of the adult population.

Dr Sam said the symptoms of the disease included excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, blurred vision, dizziness and tiredness.

Mr. William Ofori, Country Manager of AstraZeneca Ghana, who spoke on “Hypertension: Silent Killer,” explained that Hypertension is that level of sustained systemic arterial pressure which results over time in end-organ damage, most commonly in the eyes, the brain, the heart, the kidneys, and the vasculature.

Mr. Oforia said when the blood pressure is greater than 140/90 on two or more occasions, after resting five minutes, it is termed as high blood pressure.

The risk factors of the disease, he said, included family history; lack of physical activity; poor diet, especially one that includes too much salt; overweight and obesity.

Mr. Ofori explained that High Blood Pressure or Hypertension normally puts the patient at risk of stroke; heart attack; heart failure; kidney failure and blindness.

On the prevention and maintenance of the disease, he advised Ghanaians to maintain healthy diets; decrease their salt intake; drink six to eight glasses of water daily; and maintain healthy weights.

“The adoption of healthy lifestyle by all persons is critical for the prevention of high BP, and is an indispensable part of the management of those with hypertension,” Mr Ofori stressed.

Mr. Dzidzor Sackey, Lecturer at the School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana, whose topic was: “Eat Well, Live Strong”, advised Ghanaians to ensure the maximum intake of Carbohydrates, Vegetables, Fruits, and Protein.

Mr. Sackey said it was regrettable that increasing availability of tobacco as a result of expanding markets, and lack of protective trade policies, were a major contributory factor to the rise of NCDs in the world.

The NCD “tree,” he said, is made up of Cancer, Diabetes, Chronic Lung Diseases, Heart Disease and Stroke, Physical Inactivity, Unhealthy Diets alongside Smoking.

Mr. Sackey was of the view that most NCDs could be prevented if Ghanaians maintained healthy weights; engaged in regular exercises; ensured the intake of proper diets; quit smoking and managed their stress.

Mr. Mawuli Atiemo, President of the Central University College branch of GPSA, said as pharmacy students and agents of change in the community, members of the Association were determined to intensify education on improved nutrition.

This, Mr. Atiemo said, would go a long way to help achieve the Third Objective of the World Health Assembly’s Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs which is: “to promote interventions to reduce the main shared modifiable risk factors for NCDs like tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.”

The GPSA President disclosed that the climax of the celebration would be the Community Health Project at Bator in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region where the inhabitants would benefit from health screening on Diabetes and Hypertension; checking of Body Mass Index; counseling sessions on NCDs; Health Education on Preventive Health’ and a Deworming exercise for school children in the area.

Source: GNA

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