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Entrepreneurs, corporates, medical practitioners and policymakers are coming together to coordinate their efforts to fight diabetes and hypertension. On 30th August 2017 at the 5th eHealth Meetup in Osu, Accra saw representatives from BIMA and Merck explain their organizations’ strategies and interventions toward public health education regarding chronic diseases.
Dr David Sunu, Chief Medical Officer of BIMA Ghana, explained, “We cannot continue using the same reactive approach to healthcare that has seen a continuing rise in chronic diseases. BIMA is committed to public health education through our community health screenings, our preventative health information and our BIMA Doctor teleconsultation service.”
BIMA uses field agents and mobile phone technology as a unique method of outreach to the informal sector. Last year BIMA screened 25,000 people for blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index, eyesight and hepatitis B, for example with 10% of patients being notified of high blood sugar readings for the first time. It has 40,000 people enrolled onto health coaching programmes delivering targeted content via SMS and IVR and giving them access to medical practitioners over the phone for medical advice.
The increase in chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension has become a major challenge in Ghana today thereby contributing to the disease burden in the country. During the last World Diabetes Day in November 2016, the Ghana Diabetes Association announced an estimate of about 4 million Ghanaians living with diabetes (almost 15% of the population). The steady rise in the incidence of chronic diseases over the past few years in Ghana are largely a result of urbanization and lifestyle changes such as bad eating habits or lack of exercise. Chronic diseases increase the rate of hospital visits resulting in higher health service costs and lower productivity. Chronic disease has an enormous negative effects on the individual, the family and the society as a whole.
Emily Sheldon, Director of Health Innovation at Impact Hub Accra and organizer of the eHealth Meetups said “In 2016 we launched a full-time health innovation program and eHealth meetups focused on bringing together cross-sector voices from industry, academia, government, and entrepreneurs for informational discussions, networking opportunities, and early-stage startup incubation. This is our fifth panel discussion in an eight-part series with audience members from entrepreneurship and health backgrounds.
Christina Tuemmers, mHealth Division Manager of BIMA Ghana, urged all Ghanaians to sign up for the BIMA Doctor service which gives affordable access to quality healthcare for low income Ghanaians, costing only GHC 2 per month for unlimited access to a medical practitioner over the phone for you and your family. This has provided a safe and confidential way for residents to obtain medical advice and health information and helped relieve the burden on hospital system.