Alcoholism and suicide shoot up in Ghana

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Addiction-Comprehensive-Health-Enhancement-Support-System-for-AlcoholismDESPITE gains made in combating diseases in the past 15 years, suicide and binge drinking in Ghana have become greater threats to health, a new study has revealed.

According to the study, alcohol consumption is on the rise with 7% of the population at risk of health loss from binge drinking.

This represents an increase up from 6% in 2000.

In addition, the suicide rate increased from 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people to 9.7 per 100,000 people in 2015, the study said.

This means that the number of people who are dying from suicide every year increased from 2,075 in 2000 to 2,420 in 2015.

The study was carried out by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.

The title of the study, ‘Global Burden of Disease Study’ (GBD) published in The Lancet, analyzed each country’s progress toward achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by creating an overall SDG Index score.

It was funded by Gates Foundation.

Ghana ranks 141 out of 188 countries

A nation’s SDG index score is based on a scale of zero (worst) to 100 (best).

Ghana ranked 141, out of 188 countries surveyed in the world with 43 points.

Ghana is 4th best in Africa

This puts Ghana ahead of Kenya with a score of 40 points, Cote d’Ivoire 35 points, and Nigeria  34 points; and just behind South Africa and Botswana-both with scores of 46 points and Namibia –  45 points.

For alcohol consumption, Ghana scored 78 points out of 100 while suicide scored 58 points, indicating that suicide rates are getting worst.

Experts blame suicide on factors such as divorce, family problems, economic hardships while peer pressure, money in the hands of the youth, divorce, family problems, economic hardships account for binge drinking.

The study noted that by successfully combating diseases like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, Ghana had made great health progress since 2000.

But the country needs to make even greater progress if it hopes to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it said.

Lack of clean water and poor hygiene

According to the report, while Ghana has increased access to basic health services, too many more people, high percentages of the population, remain at risk because of lack of clean water and poor hygiene.

Only 36% of women get access to contraceptives

In addition, while access to family planning methods increased between 2000 and 2015, only 36% of women ages 15 to 49, who want contraceptives or other resources, are able to access them.

Top findings for Ghana

• Malaria rates also fell from 284 cases per 1,000 people to 209 cases per 1,000 people over the 15-year period.

• Cases of new or relapsed tuberculosis declined from 2.3 per 1,000 people in 2000 to 1.5 per 1,000 people in 2015.

• The neglected tropical disease rate was nearly halved from nearly 78,000 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to approximately 38,000 per 100,000 people in 2015. These include ailments like the eye malady trachoma, the parasitic disease schistosomiasis, and the lymphatic system ailmentlymphatic filariasis.

• The suicide rate increased from 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people to 9.7 per 100,000 people in 2015.

• Alcohol consumption is on the rise with 7% of the population at risk of health loss from binge drinking, up from 6% in 2000.

Ghana’s health gains were made against a global backdrop of expanded health coverage, greater access to family planning and fewer deaths of newborns and children under the age of 5, are among several health improvements contributing to many countries’ progress toward achieving the SDGs.

“Ghana has shown promising health progress in the past 15 years, particularly by combating problems like childhood stunting and deadly diseases like HIV, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases.

“But Ghana needs to take action to further drive down these disease rates, and tackle major challenges like water and hygiene,” said Dr. Tom Achoki, Clinical Assistant Professor at IHME. “Much more energy and resources will be needed for Ghana to meet the SDGs,” he added.

“We know that international targets can motivate countries and motivate donors,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray. “The international Global Burden of Disease collaboration is committed to providing an independent assessment of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.”

For example, Ghana’s SDG Index score increased between 2000 and 2015, from 30 to 43.

The rate of new HIV infections dropped from 2.2 new cases per 1,000 people in 2000 to only one case per 1,000 15 years later.

One potential driver of the decrease in HIV and other communicable diseases in Ghana is the concurrent increase in access to health services.

In 2015, 67% of Ghanaians who needed an essential health intervention received it, in contrast to just 29% in 2000.

The proportion of countries that have accomplished individual targets varies greatly.

For example, more than 60% of the 188 countries studied show maternal mortality rates below 70 deaths per 100,000 live births, effectively hitting the SDG target.

In contrast, no nation has reached the objective to end childhood overweight, or to fully eliminate infectious diseases like HIV or tuberculosis.

The GBD is the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological effort to quantify health loss across places and over time.

The GBD enterprise – now consisting of more than 1,800 researchers and policymakers in nearly 130 nations and territories – is coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Established in 2007, IHME is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates strategies to address them.

IHME has made this information available so that policymakers, donors, practitioners, researchers, and local and global decision-makers will have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.

IHME created the “health-related SDG index” by combining results for 33 health-related SDG indicators and giving a single value, on a scale of zero to 100, for each country.

The index allows measurement of how much a country has improved overall from 2000 to 2015.

Each indicator is individually scored as well and a composite (a geometric mean) of these 33 scores translates into the health-related SDG index score. The change in this score from year to year shows whether a country is progressing toward the target.

Countries showing tremendous improvements should be looked to as examples of change and progress.

By Elvis DARKO, Accra

ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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