The government has been urged to address the inequalities and underdevelopment in the country to improve the general health and well-being of citizens, especially vulnerable communities.
A Prof. of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), David Teye Doku, said critical issues that negatively impacted the health of people could be reduced if efforts were made to resolve the underlining factors of disparities.
Speaking at an inaugural lecture in his honour on “The causes of the causes: Is society the producer of its own health and ill-health” last Wednesday, Prof. Doku said the health status of people went beyond what was diagnosed in the hospitals, adding that the more inequalities in the distribution of incomes in a country, the worse its health and social state outcomes.
He, therefore, said it was important that people in positions of responsibility worked harder to ensure better public healthcare were provided to improve health indicators.
Prof. Doku further said that there were essential social determinants of health which were non-medical, but significantly influenced health outcomes.
“Our health is greatly impacted by how society is organised, and it’s important that as a nation, policies are put in place to improve the state of the communities,” he said.
He said education, employment and improved infrastructure, such as roads and access to potable water, all impacted the health of communities.
“Is it an individual responsible for the fact that there are no seatbelts in trotros which have been deemed roadworthy by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority?” the Prof. queried.
He said while the health of a person was the individual’s responsibility, several factors which affected the individual’s health were the responsibility of society.
Prof. Doku said there was, therefore, the need to hold leaders accountable to ensure the equitable distribution of the nation’s resources.
He said every sector of governance must look at how it impacted public health to ensure that health indicators were improved.
The Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. Johnson Nyarko-Boampong, commended Prof. Doku and said he was optimistic that the nation would work collectively to improve healthcare.
Prof. Doku is the Director of the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy of UCC, and is currently the topmost scholar in UCC with nominal citations of papers of all times with 17,335 citations.
He is also the second in UCC with 54 relevant papers in Scopus-indexed journals from 2016 to 2020.
The director began his academic career in 2008 as a researcher at the then-Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Finland.
He was appointed a lecturer at UCC in 2011, promoted to the rank of senior lecturer in 2013, and associate professor in 2022.