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I believe in the fact that no man is an island. We need others sometimes to make life worth living. The best asset that has stood the test of time is information. Together we can share knowledge and information. This will ultimately benefit all of us. Enjoy and Welcome to my World of the Realities of Life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Historical Perspective to Health Care

• Ripples Health Care Training Department
• Batch 13

• James Arthur - Amoah

• Pre-Colonial Ghana before the 15th Century
• In relation to health, the territory known as present day Ghana had its own system of health care enshrined in the Socio-Political and economic lifestyle of the people depending on where they find themselves. There were not united as one people but the fact was each group had its own system of taking care of their sick through various traditional ways.
• Era of Traditional Medicine: Pre – Colonial Ghana
• Before the Arrival of the European onto the shores of Ghana
• Various means of Traditional Healing
• Enshrined in the Customs, beliefs, lifestyle etc.
• Mode of Practicing it
• On a thanksgiving basis with each village having its own physician recognized by the whole village
• Specialized treatments were given by specialized persons

• The Traditional Medicine Practice Act of Ghana defines traditional medicine as "practice based on beliefs and ideas recognized by the community to provide health care by using herbs and other naturally occurring substances" and herbal medicines as "any finished labeled medicinal products that contain as active ingredients aerial or underground parts of plants or other plant materials or the combination of them whether in crude state or plant preparation".
• “Traditional medicine (TM) refers to the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness. Traditional medicine covers a wide variety of therapies and practices which vary from country to country and region to region. In some countries, it is referred to as "alternative" or "complementary" medicine (CAM)”. (WHO)
• Traditional medicine therefore formed the very core when it came to the health needs of the people. Public health care took the form of using various taboos at ensuring that preventive measures are taken before one will contract a particular disease and therefore the need for physician’s attention. Primary health care centered mostly on the various shrines and places of healing.
• Specialized treatments were given by specialized healers. People could move from a particular location to another because their health needs might not be in the domain of the local healer. These healers were recognized and respected by the community in which they lived and were indeed trained to offer the services they rendered.
• As to the efficacy of the treatment and the conditions under which it was practiced, traditional medicine had its own strengths and weakness but nonetheless, it was able to cater for the health needs of the people.
• Colonial Era – Arrival of the Portuguese by 1471
• Because of the prominence and the strategic position that the coast of the present day Ghana had in promoting trade in Ivory, Gold and later on Slaves, various western powers established forts and castles along the coasts of the then Gold Coast. The first were the Portuguese in around 1471 under the patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator and the Elmina Castle built by Diego d’Azambuja ordered by King John II of Portugal in 1782. The Dutch followed in 1598 and others like the British, Danes and Swedes also came along.
• The belief is that every Ship that landed on the shores of the coast had its own priest and Physician. Western Medicine came to the shores of Ghana with the advent of the traders and explorers unto the coast of the Gold Coast. They attended to the health needs of their people but as we are made to believe with time, they extended their service to their servants and the Elites in the Society like the Chiefs and clan heads.
• Medical Apartheid
• The Arrival of the European on the coast of the country - 1482
• Discriminatory treatment of Europeans, indigenous servants and important men in society like the Chiefs and the clan heads with Western Medicine.
• Both Traditional Medicine and Western Medicine were practiced simultaneously
• Native Customs Regulation and Preventive Ordinance was enacted to regulate traditional practices that are were not understandable by the human mind Traditional Medicine inclusive

• The Native Customs Ordinance in 1892 limited the use of traditional medicine as a means of treatment since some of the treatment procedures and methods were contrary to the understanding of the western mind. Some do believe that in order to care for the health needs of its own people they needed to bring into force rules that will ensure that the local people will not infect them with infections which they will get from their traditional healers and their practices.
• Health centers were built and the first is believed to have been in Cape Coast the major one however being the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. The hospital was founded in 1923 as the Gold Coast Hospital. The then Governor, Gordon Guggisberg laid the foundation for Korle Bu Hospital in 1921, and it was finally opened on 9 October 1923. Because of free medical care most people started seeking health care from the medical centers. Despite the fact that Traditional Medical Practices were banned the natives never gave up on it.
• Post Independence Era – After 1957
• The same system continued to exist when it came to seeking treatment but the high cost of treatment and sometimes the nature of the disease forced the people to seek medical treatment in the Traditional Places. With the Establishment of the Traditional Medicine Council and the emergency of various centers of therapy is moving the health system of the Country into a multi – dimensional approach where health care is not only restricted to the hospital or clinic.
• The New Wave
• Alternative and Complimentary forms
• Strengthening of Public Health
• “In Ghana, about 70% of the population depends exclusively on traditional medicine for their health care. There is approximately one traditional medicine practitioner for every 400 people, compared to one allopathic doctor for every 12 000 people. With over 100 000 traditional medicine practitioners uniformly distributed nationally, they are not only more accessible to the public, but also the backbone of the health care delivery system” C.f. Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review (WHO; 2001)
• The strengthening of Public Health aimed at preventive measures rather than curative has also taken centre stages with various program put into place by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service and various individual NGOs in health.
• E.g. Malaria Control, and Sanitation Campaigns

A new wave of an all inclusive health system

• Traditional Medicine reemergence
• The Idea of Care and Hospice
• Various Complimentary and Alternative Therapies
• All these are no longer limited to the Western Medicine Environment.

• So from the Traditional Medical Practices only through to the era of western medicine only now we found ourselves in multi dimensional systems where opportunities in Alternative and Complimentary medicines are being explored.
• Health Care is not restricted to the health centers E.g. Ripples taking care to clients in their residence

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