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Ghanaians’ health has improved in the past three decades

Children at Anomabo Beach

Ghana News Agency (Accra) – The health of the Ghanaian population has improved in the past three decades, according to a revised Ghana National Health Policy.

The life expectancy of 57 in 1990 increased to 64 in 2017.

The National Health Policy has been developed to ensure the healthy lifestyle of every individual living in the country. It has five objectives: to strengthen the health-care delivery system to be resilient, encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles, improve the physical environment, improve the economic status of the population and ensure sustainable financing for health.

The policy document notes that in 2017, three out of 1,000 pregnant women died in delivery, compared to six in 1997. It also finds that 9% of all babies born in 1990 died before age one and 12% died before age five: in 2017, however, the proportion of of all babies born who died before the age of one was 3% and 5% died before age five.

Slow improvement

The policy notes that the improvement has been slow and far short of the desired global targets. The changes represent an average improvement of 50%, against the desired improvement of 75%, it says.

Ghana has not achieved the desired level of health care because it has not addressed enough of all the key determinants of health comprehensively.

With an ageing population, conditions such as musculoskeletal and neurodegenerative disorders have been increasing in prevalence, the policy document says. The burden of mental health is also increasing, with an estimated 10% prevalence for common mental health ailments such as depression and anxiety.

It notes that 3% of the total Ghanaian population has some form of disability with visual or sight impairment being the most common.

The document says the complex disease burden is influenced by risk factors such as the physical environment, education, socio-economic situation, population, lifestyle and demographic characteristics of the Ghanaian population.

Main health problems

The policy document also says that, historically, the major health problems affecting Ghana have been primarily communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional disease.

It says maternal and neonatal health conditions remain a challenge, especially in rural areas and among poor women.

The document further notes that non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, stroke, cancer, diabetes, eye disorders and, oral health conditions are also increasing in prevalence.

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