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At a glance: Ghana

Door-to-door surveys access vital health-related information in Ghana

UNICEF Image: Ghana, Health survey
© UNICEF Ghana/2008
Seven teams throughout Ghana are conducting 30-minute home surveys that will reveal vital information about the health of the country's people.

By Robin Giri

EKUMFI, Ghana, 27 March 2008 – Avoiding the oppressive heat of day, a trainee at Ghana Health Services, Antoinette Tettey, rose before dawn to travel to Ekumfi, a coastal village in south-central Ghana. Ms. Tettey, a graduate student, has been leading a team of seven people to conduct a confidential survey amongst the villagers, through which they gather vital information about the health needs of the community.

The 30-minute survey will reveal much about the people of Ekumfi, such as their access to medical services and health education, and the prevalence of HIV and other illnesses, as well as their economic status.

Currently, seven teams like Ms. Tettey’s – which consist of four interviewers, one editor, one supervisor and one driver – are reaching out to approximately 740 households each in the Central Region and in the metropolitan areas of Accra and Kumasi.

Not an easy task

Conducting the interviews is not an easy task, as the teams face multiple challenges. First, there are the physical demands of travelling long distances over rough terrain in the scorching heat. However, Ms. Tettey noted that the interpersonal challenges can be even more daunting.

UNICEF Image: Ghana, Health survey
© UNICEF Ghana/2008
Graduate student and trainee at Ghana Health Services, Antoinette Tettey, with Ms. Kate, a participant in the survey.

“The hardest part is assuring the respondents of the confidentiality and the value of the information they volunteer,” Ms. Tettey said.

In an additional challenge, many older participants do not have birth certificates and have never attended school, so the team must use alternate ways of assessing personal information such as age.

“Do you remember who was president when you had your first child?” Ms. Tettey asked a grandmother who had agreed to participate in the survey.

“Oh, it was Nkrumah,” the woman said, smiling, referring to Kwame Nkrumah – the first Ghanaian President after the country achieved independence in 1957.

Utilizing past surveys

The efforts are part of the District Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and are being coordinated by the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF Ghana.

The government plans to publish the survey results by July. The information will be used to advance cost-effective strategies for immunization programmes, prevention of childhood illnesses and malnutrition, and improved antenatal care.

“Based on the findings of similar surveys in the past, the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, created a package of low-cost interventions, which include home-based care for malaria,” noted UNICEF Ghana’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Bo Pedersen.




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