The UK and Ghana

Ghana is a tropical country on the West coast of Africa.  Approximately the size of the UK, Ghana is divided into ten administrative regions and 188 decentralised districts.  Greater Accra is the smallest and most densely populated of the 10 regions.

The main language spoken in Ghana is English, although many local dialects are also used.  The prominent religion is Christian in the South, and Muslim in the North.  Traditional beliefs are also widely followed. 

Healthcare in Ghana is subsidised through the National Health Insurance Scheme, however, accessing healthcare remains challenging for many.

The westernisation of lifestyle in Ghana, particularly within the urban district of Accra, is changing public health.  Despite this, competing health priorities mean that non-communicable diseases continue to receive less funding and attention than communicable diseases such as HIV and malaria.  World Health Organisation figures (2008/2009) record 1 doctor per 11,929 population nationally (with 1 doctor per 5103 population in Accra) and 1 nurse per 971 population nationally (with 1 nurse per 874 population in Accra).  This compares to approximately 1 doctor per 434 population and 1 nurse per 78 population in the UK.

Chronic and non-communicable diseases, including stroke, are significant health problems in Ghana. The prevalence of hypertension and diabetes are rising, which alongside a rise in obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, are major contributors to morbidity and mortality. Stroke disease is in the top five causes of death in Ghana, accounting for 11,000 deaths nationally per year. In Greater Accra, stroke is reported to be the second largest cause of death, preceded only by malaria1. The impact of stroke disease of individuals, families and communities, as well as the health system, is significant.

1de-Graft Aikins, A (2007) Ghana’s neglected chronic disease epidemic: a developmental challenge. Ghana Medical Journal, 41(4), 154-159