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On 2021 World Health Day: Let’s Invest in Health Care

Thu, 8 Apr 2021 Source: GNA

Health is said to be a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

This implies that a person is unwell, if he lacks one of the components. Although health is said to be central to happy living and productivity, most people around the world are battling with one form of illness or the other.

World Health Day

Today April 7 is World Health Day (WHD), a day set aside annually to create awareness on health and wellbeing and draws the attention of people across the globe to highlight important health issues.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Building a fairer, healthier world.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the world is an unequal one, in which some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age.

It said the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic is one example of such an unprecedented situation as some people were able to live healthier lives and had better access to health services and some were facing difficulty fighting back.

The WHO emphasizes that there is an urgent need to protect, test and treat the whole global population: only when this happens can we end the pandemic.

What are communicable and non-communicable diseases?

The disease pattern in Ghana, however is shifting from communicable to non-communicable disease (NCD). NCDs include; heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Dr Dennis Odai Laryea, Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said NCDs are on the ascendency in Ghana and there was the need for all to adapt to healthy lifestyles that prevent or reduce the risk of NCDs.

NCDs are also called lifestyle diseases as they mainly occur due to the lifestyle or daily habits of a person.

Risk factors

The major risk factors contributing to heart diseases and other NCDs include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity (pot-belly), high cholesterol, sedentary life, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet containing high amounts of saturated and trans fats, high salt and sugar), poor sleep hygiene and stress.

Dr Laryea said in Ghana, Hypertension is the most common NCD followed by diabetes, in the young, smoking, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure are the major risk factors, and these are modifiable risk factors and hence can be controlled.

He urged the public to engage in physical activities regularly and reduce activities that lead to unhealthy air and environmental pollution as it also put people at risk.

Dr Keziah Malm, Programme Manager for the National Malaria Control Programme said although access to efficient health services in Ghana has improved, with the country running a nationwide bed net coverage campaign and a variety of effective malaria control interventions available to all the population, much work is left to be done.

Malaria , she explained accounted for 42 per cent of outpatient suspected cases, 21 per cent confirmed cases at the OPD, and 18 per cent inpatient in 2020 public health facilities.

The disease puts the entire country still at risk. It is the highest disease expenditure in National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Dr Malm says an effective multi-pronged approach to tackle malaria is needed and investment in building robust health systems in public and private sectors should be a priority.

“They are the systems we will fall on in the fight against existing threats like malaria and new ones like COVID-19,” she said.

She added that a strong advocacy is critical at this time to continue investments in strengthening the health system and in life-saving malaria interventions such as bed-nets, diagnostic commodities such as rapid diagnostic test kits, indoor residual spraying,

Dr Malm called on stakeholders to join the fight against malaria, saying, “Let’s all make decisions that will translate to better health outcomes.

“We currently live in a world, where mental health, the most vital commodity seems relegated to the background. Sadly, not enough attention is given to this component of health in Ghana,” Dr Akwesi Osei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority said.

Dr Osei said even when the Abuja Declaration says all ECOWAS countries must give 15 per cent of the nation’s budget to healthcare; many countries including; Ghana are struggling to release less than eight per cent.

Consequently, there are inadequate resources, low remuneration and poor staff motivation which also affect Mental Healthcare delivery in Ghana.

The CEO hails mental healthcare workers and all health care workers for their selfless services to Ghanaians amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO however called on leaders to monitor health inequalities and address their root causes to ensure that everyone has access to the living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.

It also urged leaders to ensure that all people were able to access quality health services when and where they need them and stress the need for more investment in primary health care to achieve health for all.

Here is how to stay healthy; always ensure a balanced diet, exercise regularly and rest adequately. You don’t need to do much to ensure good health.

Columnist: GNA