The West Gonja District is the largest district in Ghana and is one of the eighteen administrative districts in which the Northern Region is divided. Its total land area is more than 2/5 of the Netherlands. Damongo, a town 130 km west of Tamale, serves as the administrative capital of the West Gonja District.
The district has an estimated population of 150,000 living in approximately 318 communities. These thinly populated settlements are far apart, which causes imaginable problems for health care delivery. The district counts 21 ethnic groups, the main of which is the Gonja. Religions practiced by its population are traditional African religions, Christianity and the Islam. It is thought that 60% of all Ghanaians are Christian and 25% are Muslim, the latter living mainly in the north. Languages spoken include Gonja, Dagaare and English.
The north of Ghana still is an unattractive environment for doctors to work in. A braindrain occurs; Ghanaian doctors leave the north of Ghana after finishing their education to work either in the south of Ghana or in the western world. The hospital therefore, has shortage of manpower. Also, the buildings are old and need to be renovated. Most of the medical equipment is in a deplorable state and need replacement.
Housing in the area is generally poor. In Damongo, you will find some brick houses, but the major part of the houses is made of clay with a thatched roof. Toilet facilities and solid waste disposal systems are virtually non-existent, leading to the characteristic provisory refuse dumps on the borders of settlements, which are often used as public toilets. Surface water is used to a large extent, which causes a high incidence of water-borne diseases.
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