In addressing the gathering on Hypertension, the Executive Director of HI Foundation lamented about the fast-rising prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in the district.
Accessing Healthcare and Burden of NCDs in Ghana
It was only after a man died in his car two years ago, when seven hospitals rejected him over no bed claims, that the issue of poor access to health was revisited. Access to health facilities and services should be a basic provision. It is important in the bid to raise the living standards of the people, regardless of race and environmental conditions. Nevertheless, the situation has been dismal in Ghana especially for the rural inhabitants. This goes a long way to affect their health-seeking behaviour poorly. In the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), good health plays a monumental part. This is also essential in the bid to curb increasing mortality rate associated with chronic diseases. It is quite undisputable that the healthcare expenditure of Ghana has risen in the past years. The government of Ghana has made efforts to alleviate the plight of the people with regards to access to quality health. Unfortunately, objectives have not been met over the years. It is important for governments and various stakeholders to invest in health as it is linked with development which is the topmost vision of any serious administration.
Let me chip in a worthwhile trend. In Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are responsible for the loss of approximately 90,000 lives each year according to the Ministry of Health. Currently, hypertension, diabetes and other NCDs are leading contributors of NCD-related deaths and its associated burden on the people. The majority of people living with high blood pressure and diabetes are not even aware of it. However, there are still question marks over the effectiveness of the NCD policy in the country. As unnoticeable as the symptoms of hypertension and diabetes usually are, people with poor health-seeking behaviour fall to its claws. I feel there is already a gap to accessing healthcare among such people in the form of reduced health-seeking tendencies. Hence, the importance of not provoking this issue with difficulties in accessing health care cannot be overstated. Also, let us not ignore the possibility that poor access to healthcare influenced some health-seeking behaviour in the first place.
In curbing the issues surrounding access to healthcare even without mentioning the government, the local authorities in the country have a major role. Usually, these leaders hide behind the high office of the president when they are closer to the people. Health education at the district level should be strengthened to help change the perceptions and negative attitudes of these people and influencing good health behaviours. The role of creating awareness cannot be downplayed as it also gives an idea of how highly the health status of the common people means to stakeholders. A major problem facing the healthcare system is finance, and this is partly credited to low economic capacity and commitment to health. There should be adequate investments in district and local hospitals to improve existing facilities and establish new ones.