MoH Proposes Higher Tobacco Taxes

Kwaku Agyeman Manu – Health Minister

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has initiated processes towards increasing taxes for alcohol, tobacco and other harmful products to generate enough revenue to support the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Deputy Minister of Health, Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, has disclosed.

The move, which is expected to happen before the end of the year, is also aimed at reducing the intake of such harmful products, thereby, reducing healthcare cost and also improving the general well-being of all Ghanaians.

The minister, who spoke at a ‘National High Level Meeting on NCDs’ held in Accra, explained that the government intends to capture the names of all persons with chronic NCDs under the NHIS as part of its policy considerations in a yet-to-be launched NCD policy and strategy data in order to alleviate the burden of such persons. 

He also indicated that government had developed a roadmap that seeks to localise the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals with adequate set of national targets and detailed strategies to deliver people-centred health services for the next decade.

“The UHC package has been compiled based on the aspiration of Ghanaians, existing health service packages, global guidelines, evidence of cost effectiveness and emerging health needs,” Mr. Kom Abban said.

The meeting on NCD was organised by Ghana NCD Alliance in the run-up to the ‘United Nations High Level Meeting on UHC’, which will take place in September this month.

The Chairperson of the Ghana NCD Alliance, Dr. Beatrice Wiafe, described the UHC agenda as a laudable initiative that is relevant to reducing NCDs as it seeks to provide needed qualitycare and financial protection to fight such diseases, especially in poor societies and rural communities.

“We all know how difficult it is for some of our relatives to get access to health care because most of the treatment centres are in the big cities. So we need to carry the healthcare to the people. I always say that every person is a potential patient of one NCD or the other as we are in a country where about 44 per cent of all deaths are attributable to NCDs,” she revealed. 

She called for a change in attitudes and cultural practices that include stigmatising persons with NCDs and downplaying the relevance of health check.

“If you report to the hospital and say you are not sick but coming for a check-up, if you are not careful a health professional will tell you that you are not serious,” Dr. Wiafe indicated.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA), Delese Mimi Darko, on her part, tasked the media to focus more on promoting healthy living as opposed to promoting consumer products that are contributing to the NCD epidemic in the country.

By Issah Mohammed