Low-cost interventions accelerate epidemiological transition in Upper East Ghana

J. J. Meij, A. J.M. de Craen, J. Agana, D. Plug, R. G.J. Westendorp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Before the 1950s effective medical interventions were not available and epidemiological transition in developing countries was mostly initiated by the introduction of mains water, sewage systems and personal hygiene. Nowadays, effective medical interventions such as vaccination programmes, medication and vitamin supplements might aid a swift transition. We recorded mortality among a research population of 18 850 in Garu-Tempane district of Ghana from 2002 to 2005. We calculated the expected mortality based on the population structure in 2002 and compared the life expectancy of the region with other countries depending on their gross domestic product (GDP). Mortality in the age group 0-9 years was 8.1 per 1000 person-years and in the age group 10-19 years it was 4.1 per 1000 person-years. Cumulative survival probability up to age 20 years amounted to 89% and was far higher than expected. Observed and expected mortality in old age were similar. The life expectancy at birth was 59 years and much higher than the region's per capita annual income of US$100 would predict. We conclude that the population is in epidemiological transition. It shows that an epidemiological transition can be accelerated with low-cost interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Children
  • Epidemiological transition
  • Life expectancy
  • Mortality
  • Vaccination


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