The Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (GhNCD) has challenged policymakers, health care institutions and professionals not to relegate the health needs of patients with cancers, stroke, hypertension and diabetes onto the sidelines, as they focus on rolling back Covid-19 cases. “Though covid-19 is fatal and deserves the needed attention, we are nonetheless encouraging hospitals to give equal attention to NCD patients as evidence has shown that underlying conditions, predominantly NCDs, rather hasten the death of covid-19 patients, hence the need to fight both head-on.” The chairperson of the Alliance, Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai, who appreciated the urgency in fighting Covid-19, however, said patients suffering from Non Communicable diseases, risked being crowded out, and encouraged health caregivers to give as much treatment and attention to NCD patients while attending to Covid-19 patients.
Dr. Wiafe, who is also the CEO of the Peace and Love Hospitals and President of Breast Care International, in a press statement issued in Accra, expressed worry there could be a surge in NCDs if the media spotlight remained solely on Covid-19 at the expense of other conditions, notably, NCDs. She cautioned that “Covid-19 should not stop our treatment cycle for NCD patients”, and urged healthcare professionals and policy makers not to forget about NCDs and people living with NCDs, who still require attention” more than ever, because of the Pandemic.
The Alliance renewed its readiness to partner the Government and allied institutions to roll back the fatal effects of both NCDs and Covid-19. “We have resolved to protect the lives of patients with Cancers, Hypertension, Diabetes, and Stroke among others, but this could be hampered if the media failed to shine the spotlight on these conditions which have ravaged families, the basic unit of life”, it emphasized.
The statement noted that increased public education and awareness creation were needed at this critical period of over-concentration of media reportage on Covid-19 related issues, and reiterated the need for the Alliance to collaborate with civil society and public institutions to reduce NCDs through good nutrition, physical activity and advocacy. “Working for a nutrition policy for schools, implementation of policies and regulations on NCDs, and the meaningful involvement of persons living with non-communicable diseases as brand ambassadors, will remain our priority”, it assured.
The Alliance advised persons living with Non-Communicable Diseases to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols, (washing the hands with soap and running water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, social and physical distancing, use of face masks outside the home), medical prescriptions while refraining from alcohol and tobacco intake. The statement also encouraged members of the public to exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and routinely go for medical check-ups.
Concluding, the Alliance promised increased collaboration with all stakeholders, visibility and mileage through integration of social media into its national communication strategy.