Figures relating to social conditions and
public health show that Ghana is a poor country, but the
situation has improved in many respects. The country
managed to meet the UN's so-called Millennium
Development Goals by halving poverty by 2015. Almost a
quarter of Ghanaians were considered living in poverty
in 2014, compared to over half in 1992.
In the big cities, there is a group of
Western-influenced and well-educated Ghanaians, while
poverty prevails in many of the suburbs. A large
proportion of rural residents are also poor, especially
in the north. The Norwegians often have poorer education
and are usually content with low status jobs when they
move south. The savannah region in the north has largely
been outside economic development. It is estimated that
over half of Ghana's poor live in the savannah region,
although it only houses about a quarter of the country's
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Ghana, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Child mortality has decreased and life expectancy has
increased. Almost all children are vaccinated against
diphtheria, polio and tetanus. Child mortality is mainly
due to preventable diseases and dirty water. Nearly nine
out of ten residents had access to clean water in 2012.
Health care is lacking in resources, even though
government grants have increased since the 1990s. In
2003, a decision was made to introduce national health
insurance, while a large proportion of the population
lacked access to health care. Many newly trained doctors
and nurses apply abroad, mainly to the UK, where they
earn far more and receive regular pay.
The clan is the base of society
The AIDS epidemic in Ghana has not assumed the same
proportions as in southern Africa, and the situation is
considered to be under control. In 2013, 1.3 percent of
the adult population (15-49 years) was estimated to be
The big family (clan) forms the basis of society. The
land is owned by the clans and society is ruled by a
chieftain, whose position is inherited and whose family
constitutes a kind of upper class.
Gender discrimination is prohibited. In the cities,
there are well-educated women in important positions in
government and business. Among ashanti and other Akan
people, the lineage is matrilinear, that is, the lineage
of the mother weighs heavier than the ancestor. This
should not be confused with matriarchy, which means that
it is the women who decide, but it can still give women
an esteemed position in certain contexts.
At the same time, the demands on women are tough, and
customs and social patterns mean that women are still
inferior to men. In rural areas, women often do not have
the right to own land or inherit assets. One custom that
human rights groups want to prohibit, partly because it
can increase the risk of HIV infection, is that in some
cases a widow can claim to marry a sister to his
Beliefs about witches still exist in some quarters,
and it happens that women as polling places as witches
are expelled from the villages and forced to live in
special places where forced labor occurs. The trocosis
system, which means that young girls are given away as
slaves to the local temple to atone for crimes committed
by someone within the family, are still alive.
Children are sold for forced labor
Female genital mutilation has been banned since 1994.
Through information campaigns, the authorities are
trying to stop the phenomenon, and several prison
sentences have been awarded for violating the law.
Between 10 and 30 percent of women are believed to be
sexually abused, mainly in Northern Ghana.
Abortion is permitted in certain circumstances, but
the rules are strict, and especially poor women are
therefore often forced into illegal abortion. Some aid
organizations work to give people access to
contraceptives, and to help vulnerable women get
medically safe abortions by breaking existing laws.
The notion that children are the property of the
local community or family makes it acceptable for
parents to give a child away to a neighbor or relative.
A degeneracy of this system has led poor parents to sell
children to forced labor in some cases. In 2005, a law
was passed prohibiting this.
Homosexuality is illegal and not accepted by large
sections of the population. British Prime Minister David
Cameron threatened in 2011 with reduced aid to countries
that punish homosexuals. Ghana's then evangelical
Christian president John Atta Mills, however, declared
that he would never agree to legalize homosexuality.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
35 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
1.7 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
1.0 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
77.8 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
18.5 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
5.9 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 68 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
13 percent (2018)