Investigating the relationship between poverty and disease : the case of Guinea Worm in the Savelugu-Nanton district of the northern region of Ghana
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The relationship between poverty and disease is complex and is often difficult to explore. The situation is exacerbated when investigating different aspects of this relationship and including concepts such as sustainable development into the equation. Varying methods have also been employed in past research when examining this relationship. Quantitative methods often give a vivid but superficial picture to the relationship, whilst a qualititative method often leads to difficulties in extrapolating this relationship to other contexts. In the research, I employed a mixed research strategy employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. Initially I estimated – based on the data I obtained - the average number of weeks lost to farming by people infected with Guinea Worm, the average number of weeks it takes to heal, and the average number of active weeks of farming lost. In the research, I found that a person within the targeted district loses approximately 107 weeks of his or her ‘active’ life to Guinea Worm. This translates into roughly 2 years of inactivity in the person’s lifetime. These 107 weeks lost to Guinea Worm is equivalent to approximately 9 farming seasons which ultimately means 9 years of economic inactivity in the Savelugu-Nanton District per person. Using qualitative methods, I discussed related issues with students and teachers in the district and found that Guinea Worm results in high rates of absenteeism in schools which impacts negatively on broader education in the region. Further investigations revealed that people in the district have lower life expectancies when compared nationally, which is a worrying statistic for a country that is already plagued with low life expectancies.
Masteroppgave i development management- Universitetet i Agder 2010