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Be strategic dealing with triple burden of diseases – Prof. Torpey

The Dean of the School of Public Health (SPH) of the University of Ghana (UG), Professor Kwasi Torpey, has urged the government to be strategic in dealing with the triple burden of diseases currently plaguing the country.

They include the challenge of communicable diseases, non-com­municable diseases (NCDs) and emerging infectious diseases, posing significant strain on the healthcare system.

According to him, while attention was being focused on health infrastructure and system strengthening, greater efforts ought to be channelled at equipping the citizenry to adopt positive health seeking behaviours to reduce mortality rates in the country.

In an interview with the Gha­naian Times at the launch of the 30th anniversary of the SPH in Accra yesterday, Prof. Torpey said although incidences of commu­nicable and infectious diseases were on the increase, NCDs were claiming more lives in the country and must be prioritised.

“If you look at statistics from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) you see the commonest cause of people attending out-patient department (OPD) clinics are the infectious diseases but when it comes to commonest causes of death, it is NCDs; the strokes, hy­pertension, heart attacks, diabetes etc.”

“We need to be strategic to tackle both at the same time so, as we focus on infectious diseases, let’s build capacity of the people, train the workforce to handle NCDs, involve the citizenry to own their health which mostly have to do with lifestyle modifi­cations; smoking, alcohol, healthy diets etc, and when these are changed, we can prevent a lot of these deaths,” Prof. Torpey advised.

The Dean entreated members of the public to eat healthy and exercise regularly as a means of building a healthier population and supporting the healthcare system to achieve its goals.

“While government and health authorities owe it a duty to secure your health, your health is your personal responsibility. You are what you eat and it’s important that we eat healthy, exercise and do regular check ups because you can safeguard your health better than any other person doing it for you,” he urged.

The Acting World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Frank Lule, in a keynote address, emphasised the need for a multifaceted approach to deal with Ghana’s disease burden.

He stressed the need for gov­ernment to see the health sector as a “foundation for national development and not only a con­sumption sector” so as to make the needed investments to sustain gains and build resilience.

Dr Lule expressed the com­mitment of WHO in supporting Ghana to maintain and attain international health standards and guidelines that are focused on equity, capacity building and progress on health targets.

He further charged the SPH to leverage research from data gen­erated by various health agencies to “proffer policies to reform, transform and upgrade Ghana’s health system and communities with resilience and universal health coverage (UHC) in mind.”

On the theme, “Three decades of public health education, re­search and science: Strengthening global health systems,” the SPH has outlined activities including health screenings, lecture series, alumni homecoming and an awards ceremony to mark the occasion.

 BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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