The life expectancy of Ghanaians, an indicator of how long a person can expect to live on the average, given the prevailing mortality rate, has appreciated by 11 years from 53.1 years in 1980 to 64.2 years in 2011.
According to the latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report (Human Development Index (HDI) launched in Accra, the country has also made giant strides in education, increasing its mean years of schooling, the average number of years people spend in school, from 3.4 years in 1980 to 7.1 years in 2011.
According to the UNDP, Ghana was chosen to host the formal launch of the report on behalf of Anglophone Africa because of its achievements and commitment to sustainable development.
The document ranked Ghana 135 out of 187 countries assessed globally in a report which is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development — long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
In 2010, Ghana ranked 130 out of the 169 countries assessed.
Ghana’s HDI showed a rise from a value of 0.385 to 0.541 in the Medium Human Development country category. The top five countries on the HDI are Norway, Australia, The Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand.
However, the positive development still puts Ghana very low in its category where the average is 0.6 73 but above the 0.463 for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The objective of the human development concept is to promote the notion that sustainable human development should, in the end, extend the health, knowledge and incomes of people by expanding their choices and opportunities.
With such a definition, human development in the Ghanaian context is assessed in terms of the health, education and livelihood of the people.
Since its inception, the HDI has been produced on various themes. The 2011 Report is on the theme: “Sustainable and Equity: A better Future for All”.
The report indicated how poverty imbalances and gender inequality at the national level were linked to reduce access to improved sanitation, potable water and income disparities.
The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, who launched the report, admitted that even though the country had achieved a lot of economic growth, it was important that development was accelerated for the growing needs of Ghanaians.
To achieve the required growth which would impact positively on the lives of people, while sustaining the environment, the Vice-President said the government would strive to increase investment in areas including health care, social intervention, infrastructural development and education.
He said Ghana’s policies, including the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GETFund), the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), had been vehicles that pushed growth.
Mr Mahama underscored that climate change was real and that the government would not sacrifice the environment for economic progress.
Giving an overview of the report, the UN Under Secretary-General/UNDP Associate Administrator, Ms Rebeca Gryspan, noted that to improve human development, and increase equity and sustainability, environmental degradation had to stop.
According to her, projections showed that the gains made in global development could be reversed in the next 40 years if the current global environmental degradation continued.
The Minister for the Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Hanny Sherry Ayittey, said as the world strived to deal with environmental degradation, Ghana, a resource-dependent country, remained vulnerable.