Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

From Poverty to Poor Health: Analysis of Socio-Economic Pathways Influencing Health Status in Rural Households of Ghana

Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

From Poverty to Poor Health: Analysis of Socio-Economic Pathways Influencing Health Status in Rural Households of Ghana

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Along with increasing and widespread urban poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, rural poverty continues to pose difficult developmental challenges for many governments in developing countries (Hellin, Griffith, & Albu, 2005; Kakwani & Subbarao, 2005; Kydd, 2002; Marter, 2005). Masses of the population in Africa continue to live in rural areas deprived of the benefits of socio-economic development and health advances capable of raising their well-being. By 2025, the rural population of the developing world is projected to increase from 2.92 billion to 3.09 billion and the rural population of Africa is expected to increase from 510 to 702 million by the same period (UNO, 1998 cited in Haddad, Ruel, & Garrett, 1999). The implication is that, regardless of the phenomenal growth of cities and increasing ruralurban migration in the developing world, the rural communities will continue to harbour a significant proportion of the population of Africa. These communities are characterised by absolute poverty and deprivation with limited access to educational facilities, poor housing conditions, depleting natural resources, limited job opportunities, poor drinking water, unsanitary conditions, poor health and nutrition as well as inadequate health service facilities. Ghana is no exception. Since independence, successive governments of Ghana have made efforts to tackle some of the major problems in the rural areas such as health decay, absolute poverty, poor accessibility to health care provision and education, poor water supply and electricity as well as poor communication networks to the rural areas. In spite of the attempts made, the depth of poverty and poor environmental and health conditions continue to deepen. Little rural-focused research has been done to systematically define the problems appropriately and offer workable approaches and programs to curb the socio-economic problems saddling the deprived communities in Ghana. As a result, the government of Ghana, as part of its development agenda, is shifting attention towards rural development in the country to raise the well-being of the poor living in these areas. To facilitate the achievement of this national agenda and raise concerns through the creation of awareness, research institutions and social scientists are beginning to focus on rural communities in Ghana, identifying their socioeconomic problems and strategic measures to resolve them. It is against this background that the theme of poverty and health in the rural communities was chosen as an area of concern for in-depth research and analysis.

The research ascertained and analysed the socio-economic factors through which poverty increases the susceptibility of deprived rural households to poor health in the Amansie West District of Ghana using participatory rural appraisal techniques. The study offered the opportunity to examine the problem from within the rural setting, involving the rural poor to properly explain their problem. The survey analysed the main dimensions of poverty in the rural communities in the District and the extent to which they affect health and rural development.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Countries and individuals within countries across the globe now focus on goals that assure health for all towards sustainable human development and dignity. By 2015, it is hoped all countries the world over, will have reduced by two-thirds their mortality rate among children under five; maternal mortality ratios by threequarters, and halted the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases that plague human societies (UNCDF, 2003; UNECA, 2005). In pursuit of these targets, it is useful to note that the possibility to realise the health-related targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lies in the understanding that several factors work together to determine the health conditions of countries' population.

The health of people is affected by many factors. …

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