Uncovering top 10 causes of death – a public health perspective


Ghana confronts a myriad of health challenges, some of which wreak more havoc than others. In this article, we delve into the ten leading causes of mortality in Ghana from the lens of public health, illuminating the critical battles necessary to enhance the country’s healthcare landscape. In this article, we delve into the top 10 causes of death in Ghana from a public health perspective, shedding light on the battles that must be fought to improve the nation’s healthcare landscape.

Malaria: the silent assassin

Picture a relentless, invisible assassin lurking in the shadows, targeting the young and old alike. That’s malaria in Ghana. Despite substantial progress in reducing malaria-related deaths, this mosquito-borne disease remains the number one cause of death. The burden of malaria on the healthcare system cannot be overstated, making it a priority for public health interventions, including widespread distribution of bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and access to antimalarial drugs.

Stroke: the stealthy scourge

Stroke, often referred to as a ‘brain attack’, silently creeps into the lives of many Ghanaians. The combination of hypertension, unhealthy diets and lifestyle factors has led to an alarming rise in stroke-related deaths. Education on risk factors, regular blood pressure checks, and dietary improvements are vital to tackling this preventable menace.

Lower respiratory infections: breathing woes

Ghana’s polluted air and inadequate access to clean cooking facilities contribute to the high prevalence of lower respiratory infections, particularly among children and the elderly. Pneumonia and bronchitis can have devastating consequences when left untreated, underscoring the importance of clean energy initiatives and improved healthcare access.

Neonatal disorders: protecting the youngest lives

New-borns in Ghana face numerous challenges, with neonatal disorders ranking as one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Preterm births, birth asphyxia and infections take a toll on the nation’s youngest citizens. Investments in maternal and child healthcare, increased access to antenatal and postnatal services, and community education are crucial to reduce neonatal mortality.

Ischemic heart disease: the growing threat

As Ghanaians adopt more urbanised lifestyles, the prevalence of risk factors like smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity has increased, contributing to a rise in ischemic heart disease. Preventive measures – such as promoting heart-healthy diets, encouraging regular exercise, and tobacco control campaigns – are essential to curb this growing threat.

HIV/AIDS: battling the stigma

Ghana’s battle against HIV/AIDS continues, with stigma and discrimination remaining significant barriers to prevention and treatment. Education, widespread testing and comprehensive care programmes are key in addressing this public health challenge. Increased awareness and open conversations can help eliminate the stigma associated with the disease.

Tuberculosis: the lingering shadow

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major concern in Ghana, often associated with poverty and inadequate healthcare access. Multidrug-resistant TB poses an additional challenge. Early detection, improved treatment regimens, and enhanced infection control measures are vital to tackling this stubborn foe.

Diarrhoeal diseases: contaminated waters

Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation practices contribute to diarrhoeal diseases, affecting both children and adults. The cycle can only be broken through investments in clean water infrastructure, sanitation facilities and health education initiatives.

Diabetes: the sugar storm

The rising prevalence of diabetes in Ghana mirrors global trends linked to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Education on the importance of regular screenings, dietary adjustments, and increased physical activity can help mitigate the impact of this metabolic disorder.

Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases: a brewing crisis

Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases are quietly brewing as an emerging public health crisis in Ghana. Excessive alcohol consumption and hepatitis infections are the primary culprits. Initiatives to promote responsible drinking and improve access to hepatitis vaccinations are critical to prevent this escalating concern.

The road to a healthier Ghana

Ghana’s fight against these top 10 causes of death is far from over, but it is a fight that must be won. A holistic approach to public health, combining prevention, education and improved healthcare access, is the key to success.

  • Strengthening healthcare infrastructure: Ghana must invest in its healthcare infrastructure, from rural clinics to urban hospitals, to ensure that all citizens have access to quality care. This includes expanding healthcare coverage, improving emergency services, and increasing the number of skilled healthcare professionals.
  • Health education and promotion: Public health campaigns that focus on preventive measures and early detection are crucial. These campaigns should target both urban and rural populations, with culturally sensitive messaging to ensure effective communication.
  • Addressing socio-economic disparities: Reducing health disparities among different socio-economic groups is vital. Initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty, improving access to education, and creating job opportunities can help break the cycle of ill health.
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles: Encouraging Ghanaians to adopt healthier lifestyles is essential. This includes promoting physical activity, healthy eating habits, and responsible alcohol consumption.
  • Research and innovation: Investing in research and innovation in the healthcare sector can lead to new treatments, preventive strategies, and healthcare delivery models tailored to Ghana’s unique challenges.

Our beloved country has a great potential and a promising future, but the top 10 causes of mortality discussed pose serious threats to the health of its citizens. Changes in society and public health initiatives can modify this narrative. Collective efforts from government organisations, healthcare providers, community leaders, and individuals are needed to create a healthier Ghana. It’s a road worth taking since it will guarantee that all Ghanaians have a better, healthier future.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organisation.

>>>I’ll be your wingman on your health journey! The writer is a public health professional with a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield, USA and works as a Medical Fraud Analyst at the Illinois Office of Inspector-General. He founded GD Consult in Ghana to promote healthy lifestyles and developed innovative projects, such as a Health Risk Assessment Model for hydraulic fracking operations. He can be reached via [email protected]



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