There is a reported half a million Ghanaians diagnosed with diabetes.
Hypertension jumped from fourth to second behind malaria as the leading cause of outpatient deaths.
Stroke rates in Ghana? Thirteen percent.
In each case, experts predict the numbers will accelerate, creating a national health epidemic with no chance of slowing down.
It’s an issue critical enough for Multimedia Group’s subsidiary Joy Business to develop a three-day health and wellness trade show titled, “Leveraging Research and Technology for Sustainable Access and Affordability” at the Accra Digital Centre.
The event began with an opening ceremony with a team of experts who provided presentations followed by a Q&A panel on Ghana’s state of health. As usual, a main topic at events like these was nutrition, specifically harmful food and drinks.
“Young people are drinking energy drinks. What for?” asked Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, former Director General for the Ghana Health Service. “You are preparing yourself for diabetes eventually. No kidding. The number of people with diabetes in this country is huge.”
Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, former Director General for the Ghana Health Service.
By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts the number of Ghanaians living with diabetes will swell to over 800,000.
To fight those numbers, the trade show invited vendors to provide information, distribute health pamphlets, check attendees’ blood pressures and give massages.
“This [trade show] is saving lives,” said stroke accountant with GB Health Solutions Nana Yaw Asiedu. Without it, he said, Ghanaians “run the risk of not getting the information they need to sustain and be healthy,” and added that, “these kinds of events are always restricted to Accra, but it needs to reach to rural areas as well.”
National health insurance: The numbers
Established under the National Health Insurance Act in 2003, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) aimed to attain universal health insurance coverage for all Ghanaians.
The scheme vowed to provide equity in health care coverage, access to services by the poor and protect the vulnerable against financial risk.
Latest studies show 40,000 people register/renew their membership daily. As of 2015, NHIS has 11.3 million (42%) active members throughout the country, a sharp increase from the 1.3 million registered members in 2005.
Health experts provided feedback and answered questions in front of a packed audience.
Overall, Dr. Patrick Aboagye, director for the Family Health division of the Ghana Health Services is enthusiastic about the scheme.
“[NHIS] has improved access to facilities and improved equity,” he said. “Health is a multi-disciplinary service and we are on track to get people the healthcare they need.”
But CEO of Nova Wellness Center, Dr. Naa Asheley Dordor says more than half of her patients come to her chiropractic practice without insurance.
“Ninety percent of my patients pay out-of-pocket,” she said.
She admits, though, that could partially stem from many insurance companies not including chiropractic as part of the services they cover since it’s a form of alternative medicine.
Joana is a seamstress who spends a large chunk of her day hunched over her sewing table, which led to her improper posture. Earlier this year, she noticed sharp pains shooting up her spine and visited Dr. Dordor, who suggested she attend the trade show.
“I feel better now,” said Joana. “And I’m learning a lot here.”
Joana, accompanied by the husband, strolled from table to table where they collected pamphlets and shared ideas with other attendees. Her husband is happy they made the trip because they “want the best for us and our children.”
The Joy Business Health and Wellness trade show takes place from Thursday, May 24 – Saturday, May 26 at the Accra Digital Centre near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.
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