Wealth and antenatal care use: implications for maternal health care utilisation in Ghana
Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Benin, Nigeria
Health Economics Review 2012, 2:14 doi:10.1186/2191-1991-2-14Published: 6 August 2012
The study investigates the effect of wealth on maternal health care utilization in Ghana via its effect on Antenatal care use. Antenatal care serves as the initial point of contact of expectant mothers to maternal health care providers before delivery. The study is pivoted on the introduction of the free maternal health care policy in April 2005 in Ghana with the aim of reducing the financial barrier to the use of maternal health care services, to help reduce the high rate of maternal deaths. Prior to the introduction of the policy, studies found wealth to have a positive and significant influence on the use of Antenatal care. It is thus expected that with the policy, wealth should not influence the use of maternal health care significantly. Using secondary data from the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health survey, the results have revealed that wealth still has a significant influence on adequate use of Antenatal care. Education, age, number of living children, transportation and health insurance are other factors that were found to influence the use of Antenatal care in Ghana. There also exist considerable variations in the use of Antenatal care in the geographical regions and between the rural and urban dwellers. It is recommended that to improve the use of Antenatal care and hence maternal health care utilization, some means of support is provided especially to women within the lowest wealth quintiles, like the provision and availability of recommended medication at the health center; secondly, women should be encouraged to pursue education to at least the secondary level since this improves their use of maternal health services. Policy should also target mothers who have had the experience of child birth on the need to use adequate Antenatal care for each pregnancy, since these mothers tend to use less antenatal care for subsequent pregnancies. The regional disparities found may be due to inaccessibility and unavailability of health facilities and services in the rural areas and in some of the regions. The government and other service providers (NGOs, religious institutions and private providers) 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 health care providers especially for the rural dwellers.