Geographical access to care at birth in Ghana: a barrier to safe motherhood

Geographical access to care at birth in Ghana: a barrier to safe motherhood

Appropriate facility-based care at birth is a key determinant of safe motherhood but geographical access remains poor in many high burden regions. Despite its importance, geographical access is rarely audited systematically, preventing integration in national-level maternal health system assessment and planning. In this study, the authors undertake a national-scale audit of geographical access to maternity care at birth in Ghana, a high-burden country typical of many in sub-Saharan Africa.

The authors found that a third of women (34%) in Ghana live beyond the clinically significant two-hour threshold from facilities likely to offer emergency obstetric and neonatal care. Nearly half (45%) live that distance or further from ‘comprehensive’ EmONC facilities, offering life-saving blood transfusion and surgery. In the most remote regions these figures rose to 63% and 81%, respectively. Poor levels of access were found in many regions that meet international targets based on facilities-per-capita ratios.

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