Catalyzing the scale-up of community-based primary healthcare in a rural impoverished region of northern Ghana

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2016 Oct;31(4):e273-e289. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2304. Epub 2015 Jul 19.


Ghana's Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative develops accessible healthcare with participatory community support, using strategies developed and tested by a project of the Navrongo Health Research Centre. In 1996, the project was expanded to a district-wide four-celled trial. In response to evidence that strategies could reduce fertility and childhood mortality, a replication project was launched to develop methods for scale-up. Based on experience gained, CHPS scale-up was launched in 2000. Although CHPS now reaches all of Ghana's districts, the pace of scale-up within districts has been slow. In response, the Ministry of Health conducted a review of factors that constrain CHPS scale-up and problems that detract from its original evidence-based design. To resolve problems that were identified, a project was launched in 2010 to test means of accelerating CHPS scale-up and expand its range of care. Known as the Ghana Essential Health Interventions Program (GEHIP), the project provided catalytic revenue to four treatment district managers for 3 years, in conjunction with implementation of strategies for comprehensive leadership development and community partnership. Monitoring systems were developed to gauge CHPS coverage time trends in all nine study districts. GEHIP successfully accelerated CHPS implementation, producing 100% of its targeted community coverage within 5 years of implementation. Coverage in comparison districts also improved. However, the rate of coverage and per cent of the population reached by CHPS in comparison districts was only half that of GEHIP districts. GEHIP success in completing CHPS coverage represents the initial stage of a national program for strengthening community health systems in Ghana. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: Ghana; community-based primary healthcare; health system strengthening; scale-up.

MeSH terms

  • Capacity Building / organization & administration*
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration
  • Ghana
  • Health Planning / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Poverty Areas
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*