A comparative study of modern and traditional health services in the Bolgatanga Municipal Area

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Accessibility to health services is a major global problem and its greatest manifestation is found within sub Saharan Africa. There is a dichotomy in the spatial distribution of health services in the Bolgatanga municipality as it is a common feature in most developing countries like Ghana. Majority of the health facilities are skewed towards the urban centre to the neglect of rural settings. Dimensions of distance to health services namely travel time, waiting time, appointment with a doctor; nature of roads, means of transport and cost all have a telling effect on utilization. Also poverty and illiteracy are important variables that influence the use of health services. Given the above situation, traditional medicine is been perceived to have gained popularity among the people in the Bolgatanga municipality. Various traditional health practitioners are found in most of the areas in the municipality. This provides an alternative health care system to users. It is within this context that the study assessed the level of patronage of modern and traditional health facilities in the Bolgatanga Municipality and analysed the factors responsible for the decision to use traditional medicine rather than modern medicine. It also examined the perceptions on the efficacy of Modern and Traditional Medicine. The cross-sectional research approach was employed to elicit answers or responses from the research questions. Structured questionnaires were used to interview 156 household heads, 22 modern and 22 traditional medical practitioners. The analysis of the data revealed that the patronage of modern medicine in the municipality is high (72.2 percent) as compared to traditional medicine (15.6 percent) and both 12.2 percent. The survey also showed that factors such as convenience, taste and preference, accessibility/affordability, effectiveness and attitude of staff all play a role in the choice of a particular health care system. The results further revealed that modern medicine is considered effective in the treatment of diseases than traditional medicine because it offers complete healing (tried and tested). The integration process of both medical systems stands the chance of ensuring universal health coverage in the municipality. Nonetheless, the issues of unequal recognition of knowledge by practitioners and differences in the practices of both systems have to be battled with. The study recommends that stakeholders particularly government should establish more modern health facilities as efforts are made to make traditional medicine more acceptable to the people.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning.