As per the “Best Healthcare in the world 2023” ranking done by the World Population Review, Ghana ranks 100th out of 167 countries worldwide. Regarding Ghana health service, it ranks 12th within the most developed countries in Africa, however it’s still very much recommended to have your own private medical insurance.
Let’s take a look at the current situation of the health care system in Ghana, how to get access to higher quality private facilities, and recommended hospitals, such as Nyaho Medical Centre, one of the top leading private healthcare facilities in Ghana, just 5 minutes away from Greenviews, our Accra luxury apartments complex.
Ghana health service: a current overview
Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced by the government in 2003. This was a good move from the “cash and carry” system which made it compulsory for individuals seeking care at facilities to pay before receiving care.
This system helped improve operating revenues for some facilities, but led to a decline in the use of healthcare facilities, especially amongst the poorest population, the reason why a change was needed and that is when the NHIS was introduced.
In order to be part of the NHIS system, you must pay a membership fee for registration (approximately 30 ghs) of which you then get free access to a range of healthcare services (it does not cover some medical procedures like heart and brain surgery, dialysis, cancer treatment, organ transplant, amongst others).
Ghana’s 2021 census results report 68.6% of the population is covered by either the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) or private health insurance schemes, which is a great improvement in comparison to 2014-2015 when only 40% of the population were covered.
Despite these figures, the reality is that other out-of-pocket costs remain outrageously high for a large portion of the population, not to mention those living in rural areas which still primarily depend on traditional African medicine.
Public hospitals are overcrowded and underfunded, with a statista report mentioning that there is one doctor to 15,259 patients.
How does Ghana’s health care system work for expats
Public Ghana health service
Public hospitals and health care facilities that make up the Ghana health services are funded by the government (NHIS) and also many religious groups who are engaged in helping provide access to medical care to Ghanaians.
As an expat in Ghana you can get access to the public health care paying a very small fee in comparison to the private hospitals. However, do not expect to find the standard of facilities you would find back home.
We highly recommend you opt for private health care to avoid disappointments and be sure you will get the assistance you expect.
Private health care in Ghana
There are a number of private hospitals in Accra who cater specially to expats and tourists. The majority can be considered as “general”, meaning they may not offer specialized services. You can check a list of eye hospitals in Accra and for other specialities, please check the Ghana Hospitals website.
Here is a few hospitals we recommend:
- Nyaho Medical Centre: It is considered one of the best private hospitals in Accra.
- Lister Hospital: located in Airport Hills Estate
- Akai House Clinic: located in Cantonments
- Trust Hospital: located in Osu, this is actually a half private, half public center. Prices are much more affordable than other private hospitals, but have really decent facilities and equipment.
- Euracare: located in Labone
- Medifem hospital: located in West Legon
Prescriptions, drugs and pharmacies
There is still a serious concern that many pharmacies in Ghana still sell fake and low-quality drugs, the reason why we recommend checking that the medicines you buy have the approval of the Ghanaian Pharmacy Council or are attached to a reputable medical facility. You’ll find many 24-h pharmacies in Accra, but it’s always advisable to call first and check.
There are a few pharmacies selling rare prescription drugs in Accra but it can be hard finding one sometimes, so if you require a specific prescription medication, try and bring a supply to Ghana with you.
There are some specific medicine names that will not exist in Ghana. In that case we advise you to take a note of the generic names of drugs or main ingredient components. You can go with these to the pharmacist and find your needed medicine by component instead of name.
Do also check if the drugs you take are legal in Ghana. For example, there are restrictions around sleeping pills, medication for ADHD and strong painkillers for which you will need a medical certificate.
Tips when using Ghana’s Health Service
- Make sure you get your Yellow Fever jab, that is the only current required immunization vaccine
- Some recommended vaccinations counter hepatitis A and B, meningococcal meningitis and typhoid fever. Always check with your country’s tropical medicine department beforehand.
- Consider taking malaria medication since it is present in Ghana
- Bring medication with you from your country, specially rare prescription drugs
- For very specific medical specialities, check with other expats in Ghana for recommendations. If you still do not know any expats living in Ghana, you can always write on one of the general Ghana expat groups on Facebook and you will surely get a good recommendation.
- Choose private over public health care systems.
- Get a private insurance from your home country that will cover health care services in Ghana
- For very specific check ups, treatments, etc, it is preferable you travel back home