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Enhancing the capability of persons with disability to utilize healthcare

Adu Owusu Sarkodie (Department of Economics, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 January 2023




The Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Act, 2006 (Act 715) was passed in Ghana to grant several rights to PWDs, including access to public services such as healthcare. This paper investigates the inequality in resources and then later assesses the effect of disability on healthcare utilization if all resources are distributed equally between disabled and not disabled persons.


The study uses data from the seventh round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS 7), which was conducted in 2016/2017, and employs the estimation method of propensity score matching (PSM), within the framework of the capability approach (CA).


The findings are that there is a disparity in the resources and conversion factors needed to utilize healthcare. Compared to not disabled persons, persons living with disability are more likely to be poorer but pay more out of pocket because they are more likely to be uninsured. They are also older, male, uneducated and live in rural areas. They are also likely to spend more money but less time to travel to the health facility, and they wait longer to receive treatment. After matching these background characteristics, disability reduces healthcare utilization by 12.4%.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited by the lack of information about the reasons for seeking healthcare by the persons living with disability, whether it is for general treatment as any other person or for treating the disability.

Practical implications

Persons with disability are less endowed. However, even if they have the same resources as their abled counterparts, disability will still reduce healthcare utilization.

Social implications

This paper identifies and addresses all forms of inequality with respect to healthcare utilization, within Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach.


Persons living with disability are less likely to seek treatment when ill. This is understandable since there is a disparity in the resources and conversion factors needed to utilize healthcare. However, after matching these background characteristics, just being disabled still reduces healthcare utilization. The paper uses Sen’s CA framework.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at:



The author acknowledges the sponsorship received from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for his residency under the Building Capacity For Early Career Humanities Scholars In Africa (BECHS-AFRICA) Fellowship at American University (AUC) in Cairo, Egypt. The author would also like to thank Prof. S. Agyei-Mensah, Dr. Javed Maswood and Dr. Jamal Haidar for their kind mentorship during that fellowship.


Sarkodie, A.O. (2023), "Enhancing the capability of persons with disability to utilize healthcare", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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