Other Countries

Ghana & Nigeria

Filming for "No Vacancy" in both Ghana and Nigeria, with the generous coordination and collaboration of the Ghana health Service, the Nkwanta Health Development Centre and the United Nations Population Fund, proved to be enormously revealing with respect to what is working and not working within the broad realms of family planning across Africa. Ghana's Ministry of Health established the Nkwanta Health Research Centre (NHRC) in 1987, initially to study vitamin A supplements as one more defense against child mortality.

The success of this research led to the creation of at least 16 health projects across Africa and Asia. Ghana's struggle to increase the percentage of population with access to healthcare, to combat malaria, HIV/AIDS and to immunize children, has been helped along by a strong public health cadre of traditional birth attendants (well over 12,000 of them) whose skills are wide-ranging.

But one major problem remains: large family sizes. In some cases, women are still having 10 children. What is working in Ghana, however challenging the effort, is harder to achieve in Nigeria. But, as James Phillips of The Population Council says, "We learned many lessons from the Navrongo Project. First, family planning would work and the child health component of the experiment would work in a huge way... The strategy we developed in Ghana might indicate what would work in Nigeria."

Navrongo Health Research Center

Population Council