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Health Statistics

In 2005, Ghana spent 6.2% of GDP on health care, or US$30 per capita. Of that, approximately 34% was government expenditure.

In 2013, life expectancy at birth is 66 years with males at 65 years and females at 67 years, and infant mortality is at 39 per 1000 live births. The total fertility rate is 2.12 children per woman among the 15 million Ghanaian nationals. There was about 15 physicians and 93 nurses per 100,000 persons in 2010. 5.2% of the country's GDP was spent on health in 2010. 97.5% of the Ghanaian population have access to primary health care.

According to the World Health Organization the most common diseases in Ghana include those endemic to sub-Saharan African countries, particularly: cholera, typhoid, pulmonary tuberculosis, anthrax, pertussis, tetanus, chicken pox, yellow fever, measles, infectious hepatitis, trachoma, malaria, and schistosomiasis. Though not as common, other regularly treated diseases include dracunculiasis, dysentery, river blindness or onchocerciasis, several kinds of pneumonia, dehydration, venereal diseases, and poliomyelitis.

In 1994, the WHO reported malaria and measles were the most common causes of premature death. In children under 5, 70 per cent of deaths were caused by an infection compounded by malnutrition. A 2011 report by the Ghana Health Service said that malaria was the primary cause of morbidity and about 32.5 per cent of people admitted to medical facilities were admitted because of malaria.


Like other countries worldwide, HIV/AIDS is present in Ghana. In 2010 there were an estimated 230,000 people infected with the virus. The prevalence rate was at 1.3 per cent in 2012 and in 2013 at 1.37 per cent. HIV prevalence is highest in the Eastern Region and lowest in the northern regions of the country. In response to the epidemic, the government established the Ghana AIDS Commission, which coordinates efforts amongst international organizations and other parties to support education about and treatment of HIV/AIDS throughout Ghana.

  • HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 3.6% (1999 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 340,000 (1999 est.)
  • HIV/AIDS - deaths: 33,000 (1999 est.)

Women's Health

The health of women in Ghana is critical for national development. Women’s health issues in the country are largely centred on nutrition, reproductive health and family planning. Reproduction is the source of many health problems for women in Ghana. The Ghana Living Standards Survey Report of the Fifth Round revealed that about 96.4% of women reported that they, or their partners, were using modern forms of contraception. This statistic has significant importance in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, which currently affects 120,000 women in Ghana (of the 230,000 people living with the disease in the country).

Interventions for improving the health of women in Ghana, such as the Ghana Reproductive Health Strategic Plan 2007-2011, focus on maternal morbidity and mortality, contraceptive use and family planning services, and total empowerment of women.

Maternal and Child Health Care

In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to new-born and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Ghana is 350. This is compared with 409.2 in 2008 and 549 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 72 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 39. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Ghana the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 5 and the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women is 1 in 66.

Breast cancer

In Ghana, breast cancer is the leading malignancy. In 2007, breast cancer accounted for 15.4% of all malignancies, and this number increases annually. Roughly 70% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in Ghana are in the advanced stages of the disease. In addition, a recent study has shown that women in Ghana are more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade tumours that are negative for expression of the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and the HER2/neu marker. These triple negative breast tumours are more aggressive and result in higher breast cancer mortality rates.

Explanations for the delayed presentation among women in Ghana have been traced to the cost of, and access to, and routine screening mammography. Furthermore, women with breast cancer in Ghana describe a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, largely due to their belief in fatalism, which contributes to denial as a means of coping. Mayo et al. (2003) conclude, however, that lack of awareness may be a more critical variable than fatalism in explaining health care decisions among women in Ghana.

Health World Bank estimated for the period 1995--2001 showed life expectancy at birth was 57 years. The infant mortality rate was 58 per 1,000 live births and 25 per cent of children under five years were malnourished in that period. In 2001, sixty-four per cent of the population had access to an improved water source.

Health spending averages 4.7 per cent of GDP, of which public expenditure is equivalent to 1.8 per cent of GDP and private expenditure 2.9 per cent. There are approximately 1.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In 2000, around 210,000 people were classified as HIV positive, representing 2.38 per cent of the population.