Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has said that despite an increasing trend in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) related morbidity and mortality, the implementation of global interventions such as World Health Organization (WHO) policy recommendations remains slow.
For example, he said Africa was off track in achieving the WHO recommendations for tackling NCDs targets for the 2015 and 2016 deadlines.
“It appears that despite the initial achievements by African countries towards fulfilling the commitments in the 2011 UN Political Declaration and the 2014 outcome, Africa’s commitment to implementing the NCD policy responses has waned,” he stated.
Speaking during the public announcement of the NIHR Global Health Research Centres West Africa (StopNCD) award in Accra, he said “I must say that the timing is apt because the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is increasing globally, and is currently the leading cause of death and disease burden worldwide including in our sub-region. We just had a conversation on NCDs at the just ended United Nations General Assembly meeting.
“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) heart diseases, and stroke, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease now outnumber infectious diseases as the top killers globally, accounting for about 74% of all deaths.
“These conditions are mostly due to modifiable risk factors which include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, and air pollution. Unfortunately, our disease control structures in West Africa priorities have been traditionally driven by the burden of communicable diseases.
“Dr., Chairman, despite an increasing trend in NCD-related morbidity and mortality, implementation of global interventions such as WHO policy recommendations remains slow.
“For example, Africa was off track in achieving the WHO recommendations for tackling NCDs targets for the 2015 and 2016 deadlines.”
He added “It appears that despite the initial achievements by African countries towards fulfilling the commitments in the 2011 UN Political Declaration and the 2014 outcome, Africa’s commitment to implementing the NCD policy responses has waned.
“Dr. Chairman, there is no doubt that the region has been slowly responding to the increasing NCD burden, and most interventions addressed individual diseases rather than focusing holistically on people. A recent World Bank report indicated that unless urgent action is taken, the rising NCDs burden will add great pressure to the already overstretched health systems and pose a major challenge to development in the sub-region.
Presentation_text_STOP NCD overview 2 Oct 2022
“Dr. Chairman, these are clear indications that a scientific approach by the sub-region is required to improve the health and well-being of the population in West Africa that seeks to: strengthen individual skills and expertise, organizational systems and processes, and system-wide networking capabilities and leadership of researchers (to conduct high-quality research), local communities (to engage with, and understand, how to enable healthy lifestyles), and policymakers and practitioners (to implement evidence-based NCD interventions); engage with key stakeholders (patients, health workers, managers) for consulting on their views, preferences, and expectations, sharing results as they emerge, and facilitating the uptake of research results into their decisions and practices; maintain equitable international partnerships, through shared leadership involving both senior and earlier-career staff, and equally distributed management responsibilities.
“Dr Chairman, these approaches will go a long way to support the realization of the global NCD compact and the 2022 UNGA resolution on NCDs.
“In Ghana, the Ministry of Health with the support of its Agencies and stakeholders in March 2022 launched the National Policy for Non-Communicable Disease with a goal to ‘ensure that the burden of NCDs is reduced to the barest minimum to render it of little or no public health importance and an obstacle to socio-economic development’. This is aligned with the ideals of the National Health Policy, 2020, and the Universal Health Coverage Roadmap (2020-2030) which calls for the use of multisectoral collaboration as a mechanism for addressing in a comprehensive manner, all the social determinants of health for better health outcomes for all. Consequently, the development of the comprehensive policy framework on NCDs has received a high political commitment. There is the need therefore to work collectively across sectors within the frameworks of Health-in-All Policies and to tackle this health and developmental challenge confronting us as a country.
“I wish to further express my gratitude to the funders – The government and the people of the United Kingdom through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as well as the National Institute of Health and Research (NIHR) for agreeing to support the research proposal submitted with an amount of ten million pounds over the next five years. In conclusion, I wish you all the best and would be anxiously waiting for the findings of this all-important collaborative research work. I, therefore, wish you success as you work towards the achievement of the objectives of this laudable project.”