Access vs. Traditional Beliefs: Use of Health Professionals for Obstetric Care in the Kassena-Nankana District of Northern Ghana

Samuel L. Mills, Johns Hopkins University
Jane T. Bertrand, Johns Hopkins University

This study explored the role of access vs. traditional beliefs in decision-making to seek obstetric care with health professionals. 18 purposively sampled homogenous groups in 15 communities participated in focus group discussions on traditional beliefs, barriers to the use of health professionals, and ways to improve obstetric care. All the groups were knowledgeable about life-threatening signs and symptoms of pregnancy and labor complications. Decisions on the place of delivery were made after the onset of labor. Accessibility (cost, distance, transport, availability of health facilities, and attitude of nurses) were major barriers, whereas traditional beliefs were reported to be less significant barriers. Informants made pertinent recommendations on how to improve obstetric services in the district. These findings demonstrate that even in this district where African Traditional Religion is the religion of a third of the population, compared to a national average of 4 percent, access was perceived as the main barrier.

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Presented in Session 125: Maternal Health and Mortality II