Ghana is a developing country located on the Western part of the African continent with a population of 23.478 million which is made up of 48%male and 52% female. About 70% of the total population is rural and the average literacy rate of about 66% among males and 49% among female. The health status of the country in general is appalling and this is being reflected in its key health indicators as below.
According to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (2008) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) 2010 reports, the average life expectancy is 57 and 63 years for males and females respectively.
Mortality rates are significantly high in this country with an Infant Mortality Rate of 56 per 1,000 live births and Child Mortality Rate being 31 per 1,000 live births It is interesting to note that neonatal deaths account for over 60% of deaths in infancy with neonatal Tetanus being the leading cause of neonatal deaths due to large proportion of home deliveries. In 2008, the Ghana Health Survey reported that, only 57% of deliveries occurred in health facilities resulting in a maternal mortality rate of 483 per 100,000 live births.
Healthcare facilities in the country, even in the urban centers are very limited. The Adentan municipality has no medical facility and so residents have to travel to the city for medical care which is expensive and mostly cash and carry.
Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)
Noncomminucable diseases which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are the leading global causes of death, causing more deaths than all other causes combined, and they strike hardest at the world’s low and middle income populations. According to the WHO report in 2008, of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63% were due to NCDs. While popular belief presumes that NCDs affect mostly high-income populations, the evidence portrays otherwise. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths occur in low and middle income countries and it has been projected that NCDs will exceed communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most causes of death in African nations by 2030. In Ghana, NCDs do account for significant 39% of all national deaths with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and respiratory disorders accounting for majority of such deaths. It is evident that the country is going through an epidemiologic transition where the prevalence of non-communicable is increasing at an astronomical rate.
Currently the main focus of health care for NCDs in Ghana is hospital centered acute care. NCD patients present at hospitals when cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease have reached the point of acute events or long term complications. This obviously is a very expensive approach that will not contribute to a significant reduction of the NCD burden and also a drain on the scarce health care resources of the country. It also denies people the health benefits of detecting and taking care of their conditions at an early stage. A strategic approach in the fight against the NCD epidemic to ensure early detection and care using cost effective and sustainable health care interventions is long overdue.