Understanding barriers to maternal child health services utilisation in northern Ghana
This study sought to create better understanding about existing barriers to the use of maternal and child health services in northern Ghana. Using the survey research design, the study integrates outcome and process approaches to assessing barriers to the utilisation of maternal health services. Data were collected through primary interviews of 496 pregnancy and delivery episodes cases. The findings show that self-reported antenatal and postnatal attendance was high in all the districts surveyed. However, one major barrier has been the low quality of services provided. The findings also indicate that although health facility delivery is high in the districts surveyed, only the well-to-do non-literate, urbanite women and the educated patronise supervised normal health delivery care. Due to social and physical access constraints, most rural-based, illiterate and poor women perceived supervised delivery as an option only for pregnant mothers experiencing complications of pregnancy or labour. Recommendations to break existing barriers to maternal and child health services in outlying rural communities included the need to improve the quality of maternal and child health service through the supply of major logistic deficiencies, the need to provide support to the facilities with 4-wheel auxiliary drive pickup trucks to facilitate referrals of clients in pregnancy or labour complications as public transport is grossly lacking in the outlying communities, and the need to step up the training of traditional birth attendants (TBAs), as an alternative channel for supervised deliveries.
KEYWORDS : Barriers, maternal and child health services, northern regions, Ghana, traditional birth attendants