Modern and Traditional Health Care Systems in Ghana
Like other Third World countries, Ghana has continued to search for a more effective, appropriate and efficient means of satisfying the health needs of its growing population. Past efforts towards equal accessibility to, and availability of, health facilities in the country have not been successful.
The country's health budget has continued to be channelled disproportionately to existing hospitals and other curative medical care, mainly for the urban minority. The result has been a denial of basic health care services to a large segment of the Ghanaian population, especially those in the rural areas. Some basic health indicators show that the health status of Ghanaians remains poor. Life expectancy, for instance, is below fifty years compared to seventy-five in developed countries. About 33 percent of all reported deaths are attributable to infectious and parasitic diseases that are preventable. The mortality rate among under-five year olds is high. Although this age group comprises only 25 percent of the population, it contributes almost half of all deaths in Ghana; 70 percent of these deaths caused by infectious diseases are usually compounded by malnutrition. 1 Diseases such as malaria, measles, pneumonia and diarrhoea remain serious health hazards.
This chapter examines the different sectors of the health care system in Ghana; analyses the distribution of the existing health care services in the country; and discusses the development and planning of health care services over the years.
Medical care in Ghana is pluralistic, consisting of three different sectors: home remedy, traditional medical sector and modern medical system.