The implementation of the free maternal health policy in rural Northern Ghana: Synthesised results and lessons learnt

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
BMC Research Notes, 2018, 11 (1)
Issue Date:
2018-05-29
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© 2018 The Author(s). Objective: A free maternal health policy was implemented under Ghana's National Health Insurance Scheme to promote the use of maternal health services. Under the policy, women are entitled to free services throughout pregnancy and at childbirth. A mixed methods study involving women, providers and insurance managers was carried out in the Kassena-Nankana municipality of Ghana. It explored the affordability, availability, acceptability and quality of services. In this manuscript, we present synthesised results categorised as facilitators and barriers to access as well as lessons learnt (implications). Results: Reasonable waiting times, cleanliness of facilities as well as good interpersonal relationships with providers were the facilitators to access. Barriers included out of pocket payments, lack of, or inadequate supply of drugs and commodities, equipment, water, electricity and emergency transport. Four lessons (implications) were identified. Firstly, out of pocket payments persisted. Secondly, the health system was not strengthened before implementing the free maternal health policy. Thirdly, lower level facilities were poorly resourced. Finally, the lack of essential inputs and infrastructure affected quality of care and therefore, access to care. It is suggested that the Government of Ghana, the Health Insurance Scheme and other stakeholders improve the provision of resources to facilities.
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