Social factors influencing child health in Ghana

Diemert, David Joseph and Quansah, Emmanuel and Ohene, Lilian Akorfa and Norman, Linda and Mireku, Michael Osei and Karikari, Thomas K. (2016) Social factors influencing child health in Ghana. PLoS ONE, 11 (1). e0145401. ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0145401

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Abstract

Objectives

Social factors have profound effects on health. Children are especially vulnerable to social influences, particularly in their early years. Adverse social exposures in childhood can lead to chronic disorders later in life. Here, we sought to identify and evaluate the impact of social factors on child health in Ghana. As Ghana is unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, we deemed it necessary to identify social determinants that might have contributed to the non-realisation of this goal.

Methods

ScienceDirect, PubMed, MEDLINE via EBSCO and Google Scholar were searched for published articles reporting on the influence of social factors on child health in Ghana. After screening the 98 articles identified, 34 of them that met our inclusion criteria were selected for qualitative review.

Results

Major social factors influencing child health in the country include maternal education, rural-urban disparities (place of residence), family income (wealth/poverty) and high dependency (multiparousity). These factors are associated with child mortality, nutritional status of children, completion of immunisation programmes, health-seeking behaviour and hygiene practices.

Conclusions

Several social factors influence child health outcomes in Ghana. Developing more effective responses to these social determinants would require sustainable efforts from all stakeholders including the Government, healthcare providers and families. We recommend the development of interventions that would support families through direct social support initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty and inequality, and indirect approaches targeted at eliminating the dependence of poor health outcomes on social factors. Importantly, the expansion of quality free education interventions to improve would-be-mother’s health knowledge is emphasised.

Keywords:Social factors, Child health, Literature Review
Subjects:L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
L Social studies > L431 Health Policy
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B910 Environmental Health
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:29322
Deposited On:01 Nov 2017 16:16

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