People living with non-communicable diseases face disruptions in health delivery services in Covid -19 era in Ghana

    PeopleLiving with Non-Communicable Diseasesin the era ofCovid-19 are themost
    affected in regards accessto healthcare.The majority of people living with NCDs(PLWNCDs)
    have had disruptions in their healthcare services due to focused on Covid-19 cases leaving
    them to their fate. Meanwhile NCDs are the leading cause of deaths in the world today,
    killing 41 million people each year,yet governments and global leaders have paid little
    attention to it.

    The Ghana NCD Alliance byt his release seeks to highlight the challenges faced by people
    living with NCDs in arecent survey it conducted and it simplication for health care services
    and the attainment of Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030 and the need for
    government to pay undivided attention to NCDs and PLWNCDs even beyond Covid-19.
    Whilst the world is struggling to address the emerging threats ofNCDs,such as
    hypertension,diabetes, liverdisorder, cancers, chronicrespiratory diseases, stroke, etc.
    another pandemic (coronavirus) emerges having massive negative health impact.

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    The health system sin many countries have been overstretched and notable to respond
    appropriately to the challenges imposed by the deadly pandemic. Ghana and many other
    countries including the developed economies have not adequately invested and prioritized
    NCDs as a national and global pandemic, hence the devastating effects on people living
    with NCDs and other chronic health conditions. The introduction of safety measures such as
    social distancing, transport lockdowns ,mandatory facemask, and closure of outpatient
    services among others, resulted in the disruption of routine NCD and other chronic service
    delivery.“COVID19 significantly impacts health services for cancer, cardiovascular disease &
    diabetes – a survey run by WHO with responses from 155 countries has shown: It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to continue essential
    services to beat NCDs” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyes us
    Globally, it is reported that people living with NCDs experienced amultitude of challenges,
    however in the Ghanaian context, little information exists on NCDs and Covid-19, and the
    experiences of people living with NCDs amidst the global pandemic. There have however
    been concerns from the government that the majority of the Covid-19 cases and mortalities
    recorded in Ghana areas a result of NCDs.
    The Ghana NCD Alliance as part of efforts in contributing to national NCDs response and
    ensuring people living with NCDs needs and priorities are enhanced, conducted arapid
    qualitativesurvey aimed to understand the challenges faced by peoplel iving with NCDs in
    this Covid-19 era in Ghana. The evidence-based survey also draws recommendations to
    inform thenational Covid-19 response in the context of the country’s multiple disease
    burdens, particularly NCDs, other chronic diseases, and the need for health system
    Data wa scollected from 127 persons living with stroke, diabetes, hypertension, sicklecell,
    chronic heartdisease, asthma, cancer, and breast cancer from Greater Accra, Ashanti,
    Eastern, and Northern regions. The study revealed that a significant number of persons
    2 living with NCDs were hugely affected in differen tways following the Covid-19 pandemic,
    especially during the three weeks lockdown.
    The numerous challenges faced by people living with NCDs on daily basis attest to a fall in
    achieving the Universal Health Coverage, by 2030.
    “I run out of medication and had torelyonaco-tenant to share his diabetes drugs
    because I could not access the prescribed drugs from the community pharmacy as
    they had none”.Essel Francis Cudjoe, a person living with diabetes
    “I have experienced disruptions in accessing my medications due to the high cost
    charged by the pharmacy which was above my financial strength. I had to stay home
    due to fear and anxiety and my compromised immune system. We can no longer
    hide the fact that NCDs is a national crisis and the needs of persons living with divers
    non-communicable diseases can no longer be neglected” Christopher Agbega, a
    person living with Motor Sensory Neuropathy
    The findings revealed that PLWNCDs were given less attention when they visit the hospitals
    for their regular reviews and the majority reported were told not to return to the hospital
    since the focus was on Covid-19 cases.
    Some of the key challenges expressed by people living with NCDs included;
    1.NCD medication often prescribed by doctors not covered by the NHIS
    2.Fear of visiting healthcare centers due to fear of contracting the Covid-19
    3.Difficulties in accessing prescribed medications that were out of stock in most
    healthcare facilities
    4.Lack of access to physiotherapy services during Covid-19 in most healthcenters
    5.Inability to undergo scheduled surgeries as Doctors refused to perform surgeries due
    to Covid-19
    The following are recommendations shared by people living with NCDs and caregivers;
     The government should as part of treatment, care and support absorb medical bills of
    persons living with NCDs under the NHIS
     Psychologists should be stationed at all health centers to provide counseling to
    PLWNCDs to prevent an escalation of their condition
     Intensify education on Covid-19 and NCDs to reduce stigma, neglect, and discrimination
     Physiotherapy centers should be accessible with ease at all health centers to cater for
    the needs of stroke patients
    As government devises strategies and plans towards responding to this pandemic and
    beyond, the Ghana NCD Alliance calls on government to consider the finding soft his
    evidence-based document in the light of the following;
     The high rates of NCDs diagnosed cases and poor levels of control for NCDs,
    especially diabetes, hypertension, cancers,etc .in the country
     The National Policy on the management and control of NCD
     National UHC road map to deliver evidence-based primary healthcare for people
    with NCDs;
     National Covid-19 response strategy to address the pandemic
    National Health Insurance Scheme to cover the cost of NCDs
     Government to consider developing standard NCD guide lines for all healthcare


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