Doctor-patient ratio alarming – Health Director

Wednesday 5th March , 2014 5:14 pm

pressureThe Director of Health Service for Greater Accra region has decried the doctor-patient ratio in the country , saying the huge numbers of patients doctors treat daily reduces the quality of care they are supposed to give.

Ghana’s doctor-patient ratio is approximately one doctor to 15,259 patients in a year.

According to her, “physician assistants also see about 38, 000, patients in a year while midwives and nurses attend to about 6,000 and 1,400 patients respectively in a year.”

She said that in the Western region, “we had hospitals that had only one doctor and when there is only one doctor, it doesn’t matter the background of this doctor whether he is a specialist or not, anything that comes to the hospital has to be dealt with by the doctor,so you can have one doctor looking after adults, looking after children, going to the theatre, doing cesarean sessions…” ,adding that “in other places however there are two or more doctors that run shifts from time to time.”

There has been complaints about the quality of care Ghanaians receive from doctors working in public hospitals especially since the disappearance of a stillborn baby at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

Some have attributed this situation to brain-drain and a lack of investment in sector.

Commenting on the quality of care, Dr. Linda Van Otoo said “We have services that we deliver but we have to do with efficiency and we also have to do with quality  so every doctor that is trained is supposed to work as best as he or she can remembering what he was taught in school”

In her opinion, “a health facility will perform based on the type of doctors that it has as well as the facilities that are available.”

She also revealed that 183,000 cases of hypertension were recorded in some hospitals in 2013 with about 63% percent of the cases involving women in the Greater Accra region.

Additionally, out of the 54,000 diabetic cases that were recorded in some hospitals in the Greater Accra region, 62 percent of these were women

This according Dr. Otoo was as a result of the lifestyle, the work and diet  of many Ghanaian women.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Otoo said the problem was a situation that had to be addressed since the same trend was recorded in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The number which was gathered from both private and public hospitals also recorded Malaria, and Chest infections among others as the top diseases recorded at most hospitals.


The World Health Organisation initially set the standard Doctor-Patient Ratio at 1:5,000 – that is one doctor for every 5,000 patients. Ghana, at that time, was believed to have 1:13,000 patients.

The WHO standard has been revised  to about 1:600.

Diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are also emerging as important public health challenges in Ghana generally.

According to the Ministry of Health, 2007 annual district report, hypertension was one of the fourth leading causes of outpatient morbidity, and contributed to some of the highest rates of mortality.

Research shows that hypertension prevalence ranges between 19-45%, and reaches as high as 55% .

Routine public health data also show that hypertension has moved up to become a part of the top five reported ailments in most regions in Ghana and possibly at a greater rate in urban areas like Accra.

Altogether, the evidence is suggestive of an increasing rate of diagnosis of new hypertension cases. A study among residents in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana reported that only about a third of the people with elevated blood pressure were aware of their conditions.

The prevalence of hypertension has been attributed to poor lifestyles and diet as well as lack of exercise.

By: Marian Efe Ansah/