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Wealth and antenatal care use: implications for maternal health care utilisation in Ghana
Authors: Eric Arthur
Source: Health Economics Review , 2012, 2:14 doi:10.1186/2191-1991-2-14
Topic(s): Antenatal care
Health care utilization
Maternal health
Wealth Index
Country: Africa
Published: AUG 2012
Abstract: The study investigates the effect of wealth on the use of maternal health care services in Ghana; with a study of Antenatal care use (ANC). Antenatal care is used as it is the initial point of contact of expectant mothers to maternal health care providers. The study is pivoted on the introduction of the free maternal health policy in April 2005 in Ghana with the aim of reducing the financial barrier to the use of maternal health services, to reduce the high rate of maternal deaths in Ghana. Prior to the introduction of the policy, studies found wealth to have a positive and significant influence on the use of ANC. It is expected that with the introduction of the policy, wealth should not influence the use of maternal health care. Using secondary data from the Ghana Demographic and Health survey (GDHS 2008), the results have revealed that wealth still influences the use of ANC positively, and the use of ANC also improves with the wealth quintiles. Education, age, number of living children, transportation and health insurance are other factors that were found to influence the use of ANC in Ghana. The study also found regional and rural/urban differences in the use of ANC in Ghana. It is recommended that to improve the use of ANC; some means of support is provided to women within the lowest wealth quintiles; Women should also be encouraged to pursue education to at least the secondary level which has been found to be a cutoff point where women start utilizing ANC; education especially for the mothers who have had the experience of child birth on the need to use adequate ANC for each pregnancy must be intensified since the study found that the use of ANC falls with increasing number of living children. The regional disparities found may be due to inaccessibility and non availability of health facilities and services in the rural areas and in some of the regions. The government and other service providers (NGOs, religious institutions) may endeavor to improve on the distribution of health facilities, human resources, good roads and necessary infrastructure among other things in order to facilitate easy access to ANC and maternal health services in general, especially for the rural women.