Wellness Clinics, a life-saving health intervention

Koforidua, June 26, GNA-Globally, hypertension remains a major health problem resulting in the death of over 100,000 people in a year, In Ghana, it remains a leading cause of admissions and deaths in many health facilities across the country with an estimate of 5.7 million people in Ghana leaving with the condition.

It has been identified as the leading cause of admissions and the leading cause of deaths accounting for 4.7 per cent of total admissions and 15.3 per cent of the total deaths in Ghana in 2017 and one of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which according to WHO is the cause of 38 million deaths globally each year.

In time past, the only opportunity to get one’s basic health vital signs such as Blood Pressure (BP), described as the underlining cause of many lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and kidney checked, was at health facilities either during a visit for treatment for an ailment or a routine check-up for some medical conditions.

If one walks into a health facility to have his or herself checked, the attitude of the health care workers and the long queue one has to join is enough frustration to deter one from accessing such services.

This has prevented many people from willingly walking into a health care facility to check their blood pressure, sugar levels, body weight and height and other conditions which are the key factors for NCDs, especially BP also known as a “silent killer”.

Aunty Akosua Asabea, a 46-year-old trader collapsed in the bathroom one day and died from a stroke, doctors confirmed that she died from haermohargic stroke as a result of a long-term untreated high blood pressure and that her death could have been prevented if she had regularly checked her BP.

On the other hand, Madam Joyce Derkyi, a public servant in Koforidua told the GNA that for the past six years, she had not visited the hospital, “because, at the slightest feeling of sickness, I will prepare some herbs and I will be fine.”

“Since I started patronising the Wellness Clinic located at the Ghana Health Service premises at the Ministries here in the Eastern Region, it has been detected that my blood pressure has shot up abnormally. I have been recommended for management and I am adhering to the advice of the health professionals attending to me. Had it not been for the Wellness Clinic, I do not know what would have happened to me,” she added

Mr Frank Okine, a shoemaker told GNA in an interview that the Wellness Clinic was a huge relief because “I have stopped going to the hospitals due to the long queues and delays. I know I am hypertensive, and I need to check my BP regularly, but I could not spend the entire day at the facility waiting for my turn to have my BP checked.

With the introduction of the Wellness Clinic established at the Regional Hospital, I now check my BP and sugar level every two weeks and I receive the needed advice accordingly, without going through the hassle at the main hospital.

Madam Aku Tay, a food vendor said she used to check her BP from a lady who was offering a mobile service, “but she has stopped coming around, so, for a long time now, I have not checked my pressure.”

A friend introduced me to the Wellness Clinic, and I go there and decided to check my sugar and pressure every week and it’s helping me a lot.”

Routine check-ups are not common in our part of the world due to several factors, such as the long queues one has to join before getting access to healthcare services, especially at public health facilities. As a result, people only visit health facilities when they are seriously ill, and that according to health experts, is the reason for the rise in non-communicable diseases, especially hypertension, diabetes, and stroke.

In light of this, the Ghana Health Service has devised a strategy of creating ‘Wellness Clinics’ at all primary healthcare facilities to give unfettered access to people to walk in without demand for any hospital attendance card, health insurance or any demand whatsoever to check the basic vital health indicators for free

The Wellness Clinic is a set up set aside at health facilities manned by qualified health staff and equipped with the basic and key equipment like weighing scale, BP apparatus, malaria, sugar and HIV test kits among others to provide essential services to the public.

This health intervention facility offers a variety of services from preventive care to treatment and management of health issues as well as unique ways to deal with health situations to enhance the quality of life.

In some origins, Wellness Clinics are known as Wellness Centres, where diverse ailments including cancers are managed to complement traditional or conventional healthcare services provided by health facilities.

Dr John Ekow Otoo, Deputy Eastern Regional Director, Public Health, throwing more light on the concept in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Koforidua, said lifestyle-related diseases such as hypertension, diabetes stroke and kidney problems were on the rise and knowing the vital health signs were critical to preventing complications and deaths.

People want to deal with all their physical and mental complaints associated with an ailment in order to feel better and wellness clinics have been designed to fill the gaps in traditional medical services.

The idea of the Wellness Clinics is to boost access to people to just walk in without any health condition to check their vital signs including BP, sugar level Body Mass Index (BMI) among others, “so, that we can quickly pick abnormal signs and treat or manage to prevent complications”.

The plan, therefore, is that every health facility especially the primary healthcare centres like the CHPS compounds would just create a desk with the necessary equipment, “because, we have realised that it is difficult for people to go and join long queues or go through all the health formalities just to have their Blood Pressure and sugar levels checked.”

In order to increase awareness of the high rise of non-communicable diseases (NCD), Wellness Clinics are one of the interventions to give access to the public to get their vital signs checked for signs of anomalies could be picked up early and treated to avoid complications.

He explained that hypertension, which could lead to diabetes, stroke and kidney diseases has a gradual onset, saying, “when people start perceiving that something is wrong and have to seek treatment, it’s usually a sign that it has gotten to the point of complications”.

Hypertension can develop over a long time without any symptoms or signs and due to our sedentary lifestyle as well as eating habits leading to overweight and obesity, many young people are dying from stroke and other hypertension-related diseases, which are highly preventable.

Dr Otto indicated that the Wellness Clinics are to save the situation of reporting to health facilities late and entreated the public to make use of the wellness clinics stressing that all the communicable diseases rising and killing people could be prevented or detected early for treatment by simply checking and knowing BP and sugar levels.