Stability and democratic governance, coupled with plenty of natural resources have played a critical role in strengthening economic growth in Ghana. The Total Growth of Domestic Product, GDP of Ghana in the period 1999 – 2000 and 2004 – 2005 averaged eight percent. This shows that Ghana is a mid-level income nation.
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Despite this economic growth, poverty and variation level showed in income is not fairly spread in the country. Statistics suggest that twenty-three percent of Ghanaians live below the poverty line; the majority of the population live below one dollar a day. This disparity is common and is evenly distributed across cities and villages across the country.
Ghana Health Factors
The high population rate in Ghana has declined because of a high death rate. According to the Government of Ghana (2012), this death rate has been credited to several health factors. The high rate prevalent of HIV/AIDS epidemic has been a major healthcare factor that has taken a toll of the Ghanaian healthcare sector. HIV/AIDS has deeply penetrated society and elicited significant health challenges on the general population.
Hence, it has contributed to the massive deaths rate country is experiencing. HIV/AIDS has exerted significant pressure on the economic and social fronts of the Ghana population and the government, thus straining other economic progress. Similarly, the pandemic has created a major impact on the population in terms of the costs involved in its management and the effect it creates on the population.
Undernutrition among infants and children has also been a major health factor affecting the health pattern of the Ghanaian population. Most deaths related to infants have been related to under-nutrition. The Government of Ghana (2012) indicates that under-nutrition has come into being because of poverty which limits families in accessing basic healthcare facilities. Similarly, under-nutrition has contributed to the reduction of a child’s ability to learn because of interference with the motor and cognitive development of a child.
Also, Government of Ghana (2012) cites emerging health challenges such as drug resistance. It notes that tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases continues to affect the population thus, this has continued to strain the health care system in the country. Because most of the population lives in poverty, access to basic healthcare is just a dream; which, to many, is difficult to come by.
Hence, poverty has caused many people to shun healthcare resulting in high death rate in the country. Consequently, threats brought about by emerging disease of global significance such as influenza and ecological change related health problems has contributed to high mortality being witnessed in the country.
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According to Ghana Health Service (2012) malaria has been a major cause of alarm in the country. The disease has been prevalent among pregnant women, infants and children. According to Ghana Health Service (2012), malaria has been attributed to about 90 percent of infant mortality rate in the country. Although the government has stepped up and implemented control interventions over the years, challenges still exist in achieving wider coverage especially for children under the age of five and pregnant women.
Moreover, the high rate of non- communicable diseases has been cited as a major health factor affecting the Ghanaian population. According to Government of Ghana (2012), it has contributed to high prevalence of mortality rate in the country. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension have caused more death among the middle aged and old population in the country. Similarly, mental health, injuries, oral health and disabilities have also caused health challenges in the country.
Despite the challenges brought about by these diseases, the government is coming up with solid measures to ensure no citizen is left to the mercy of the disease.
Ghana’s health care priorities
The Ghanaian government has instituted several priorities to ensure the country’s healthcare is accessible to all. This has been achieved basing on the severity of areas which needs urgent intervention. The Ghanaian health care system is made up of Ghana Ministry of Health, MOH.
The MOH comprises of two wings, the Teaching Hospital, TH and the Ghana Health Service, GHS. MOH is mandated for policy monitoring, formulation, evaluation, control of health services delivery and resource mobilization (Government of Ghana, 2012). The TH oversees training of healthcare professionals, whereas the GHS oversees service delivery. The Ghanaian healthcare amenity includes clinics, pharmacies and hospitals.
Ghana has prioritized its healthcare programs to minimize high mortality rate in the country. One priority the country has put in place is strengthening better delivery of public healthcare programs and disease intervention. By recognizing the high prevalence of mortality rate and its impact on human development, the Ghanaian government, through the MOH and GHS has implemented several health programs. This is to increase economic growth of the country and help lower the poverty level of the population.
One of these programs is Imagine Ghana Free Malnutrition. This strategy is a multi-sectoral initiative that addresses malnutrition as a development challenge in the context of Ghana Poverty Reduction Program. The aim is to empower the population economically so they can access basic healthcare facility. Similarly, the government through the MOH adopted a National Healthcare Policy in 2006. This policy stressed child and adult nutrition and other connected prevalent healthcare problems.
The significant of child healthcare, especially nutrition and adult regenerative health was underlined and strengthened through Program of Work launched in 2007 (Government of Ghana, 2012). Consequently, since 2000, the Ghanaian MOH has continued to embrace the Roll Back Malaria initiative. Through this initiative, the MOH has aimed to provide soaked bed nets, sporadic precautionary treatment during pregnancy and enhancing case management.
Also, the Ghana government through the MOH has expanded high impact and rapid delivery interventions as a priority in reaching wider population. Initiatives such as the High impact Rapid Delivery launched in 2007 has enabled the government to reach all pregnant women with basic intervention. It has also increased annual distribution of Vitamin A supplements to children aged six years to fifty nine months besides increasing polio vaccination networks.
These interventions have been significant. Thus, since 2004, Ghana has noted fewer deaths related to measles (Ghana Health Service, 2012). Also, it has helped protect many Ghanaian pregnant women because presently, they are under protection of malaria through insecticide treated mosquito nets.
The Ghanaian government through the MOH has also given priority to improved community based health planning and services. The government launched the Health Sector Reform, HSR in 1997. The objective was to improve geographical access to basic healthcare services, ensuring efficiency in the services being provided and enhancing the quality of healthcare services.
This strategy has been significant. It has increased healthcare access, quality, equity and efficiency among the Ghanaians. Besides, through partnering with community based healthcare organization, leaders and social groups, Ghanaian healthcare is able to reach a larger geographical area across the country.
The government has also highlighted improving clinical management of priority diseases. Various management programmes have been expanded and integrated in the healthcare system. One of the clinical management the government has implemented is the National AIDS Control Programme. This programme provides a guideline for managing HIV/AIDS for people living with the disease. The programme provides guidelines on the use of Anti-retroviral drugs and therapy.
It also gives guidelines on managing opportunistic infections that may ensue because of contraction of HIV/AIDS. Similarly, the Ghana government through MOH launched the START programme. This is a proramme which offers comprehensive care for people living with HIV/AIDS. The programme enables people living with HIV/AIDS to receive support such as access Voluntary Counseling and Testing, anti-retroviral drugs and augment HIV/AIDS sensitization across the country.
Consequently, the government has increased clinical intervention on childhood illnesses. In achieving this priority, the government implemented the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness, IMCI and increased awareness campaign on its effective use. The IMCI allows healthcare personnel to track a child health history and give essential clinical intervention.
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Role of Nurses
The Ghanaian population high mortality rate is alarming. Despite the government granting healthcare substantial priority in reducing the scourge, more personnel in the healthcare field are required to complement the government initiative. Thus, the role of a nurse is indispensable.
Nurses play a critical role as they form part and parcel of stakeholders involved in implementing healthcare measures. They have a role in guaranteeing access and quality healthcare for all Ghanaian population by their services (Global Health Leadership Institute, 2009). Nurses will play a critical role in aligning healthcare priorities. They will simplify provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services and simplify early disease intervention, prevention and provide critical guidelines in managing diseases among the Ghanaian population.
Nurses will also promote the redesign and delivery of nursing services to the population. Through their leadership, they will articulate their nursing values in improving population healthcare outcome, coordinate healthcare provision, enhance healthcare quality and provide safe and delivery of cost efficient care through managing chronic and complex conditions of the whole population
Similarly, nurses will be significant in supplementing government efforts. This will be through collecting supporting data in view of articulating and analyzing population healthcare needs, improving healthcare quality and pointing to other areas where policy maker’s intervention is greatly needed.
The data collected through monitoring and disease surveillance will be critical in improving healthcare management (Global Health Leadership Institute, 2009). This will highly improve healthcare provision and awareness in the country.
Consequently, nurses will increasingly be charged with the responsibility of educating the Ghanaian population on disease management practices. This is critical as majority of the population does not have updated information and knowledge on how a particular disease is managed (Global Health Leadership Institute, 2009).
Because nurses are up-to-date with information on current trends and knowledge on specific diseases they will help the population to have a complete awareness and measures to undertake in order to stay healthy. This will significantly increase high life expectancy.
Ghana is among the countries in the world experiencing high mortality rates. Though poverty is seen as a contributory factor to this cause, other health factors such as high rate of HIV/AIDS penetration, under-nutrition, drug resistance diseases and popularity of non-communicable diseases has increased the challenge. However, the government has responded by prioritizing its resources to ensure its population has a basic right in accessing basic healthcare. Through these activities, it is obvious the current trend of high mortality rate is bound to decrease.
Ghana Health Service. (2012). Nutrition And Malaria Control For Child Survival Project. Web.
Global Health Leadership Institute. (2009). Strategic Problem Solving in Global Health. Connecticut: New Haven,
Government of Ghana. (2012). Ministry of Health. Web.