Health Care in Ghana: A Study of Health Care Opinion Leadership
Ghana is a developing sub-Saharan country in West Africa and it struggles with delivering health care within the universal health system. The primary barrier to medical care is the lack of access. The government of Ghana subsidizes universal health insurance for all of its citizens, but lacks technology, workforce, and more importantly access to sanitation and clean running water. Access to health care remains a challenge in Ghana, especially in rural areas. In this research, we studied opinion leadership for health care in Ghana using two surveys conducted in May, 2014. Student investigators administered a survey to explore who was identified as the health care opinion leaders by local community members. The respondents were asked to rank seven categories of health care providers by how often they spoke to the health care provider about their health, from most often to least often , including medical doctors, chemical sellers, herbalists, prayer camps, family members, midwives and shrines or voodoo priests. The study surveyed 157 respondents from local community members, including 51 people in cities, 65 people in rural villages and 41 people in Kpanla, a remote isolated island on Lake Volta. Student investigators also gave a selfdesignating survey to 61 health care providers to measure their health care opinion leadership. The results of these two surveys were consistent. Local community residents preferred to talk to medical doctors about their health care when medical doctors were accessible. Health care providers’ responses to the self-designating opinion leadership survey supported their strong opinion leadership for health care.
Keywords: health care access, opinon leadership, Ghana, chemical sellers, midwives, medical doctors, prayer camps, student research