Ghana Passes Comprehensive Public Health Legislation

IANPHI’S north-south collaborative approach to strengthening NPHI’s in low-resource countries helped inform the first comprehensive public health bill passed by Ghana since gaining independence 50 years ago. Areas covered by the new legislation include tobacco control, vaccinations, quarantine, clinical trials, food and drugs, communicable diseases, vector control and environmental sanitation. 

Before the new public health bill passed, many laws dated back to ordinances passed during the colonial era or were scattered among various other ministries. 

Helping shape the bill were IANPHI-funded efforts to create a Ghana Public Health Institute (GPHI) and developing the political support for the institute, including a visit by the chairman and ranking member of Ghana’s Parliamentary Committee on Health to Norway, which has a strong public health system. Among the most important goals of the visit were for the Parliamentarians to learn how public health laws can support NPHI structure and functions and outbreak identification, investigation, and response. 

During its visit to the Norwegian Public Health Institute and the Norwegian Parliament, the Ghana committee learned about how preventive measures such as vaccines, environmental legislation, good housing with clean water and drainage, and economic freedom had contributed to increased life expectancy in Norway. The Ghanaians also learned about the institute’s role in education and advocacy for health and health-related issues, how the legislature and the institute collaborate to improve public health in the country. 

IANPHI has partnered with Ghana Health Service since 2009, including technical assistance and funds to improve outbreak detection and response and clarify and support the institute’s role in implementing the International Health Regulations. IANPHI also supported the initial steps towards creating the Ghana Public Health Association (GPHA), which was launched in May 2011. A key role of the GPHA will be advocacy for public health.