Motivations for Non-Formal Maternal Health Care in Low-Income Communities in Urban Ghana
Patricia Anafi, Wisdom K. Mprah, David R. Buchanan, Aline C. Gubrium, Ralph Faulkingham, Margaret Barton-Burke

Considerable efforts are being made to improve access to maternal health care in order to reduce maternal mortality rate in Ghana. However, the use of non-formal care during pregnancy and childbirth among women still remain high in some communities. In this study, we investigated factors influencing the use of nonformal health care by women during pregnancy and childbirth, when formal health care services are readily available, in a centrally-located low-income neighborhood in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Twelve (12) focus group discussions and six (6) individual interviews were conducted with ninety (90) women who had at least one child, to examine factors determining the use of non-formal health care during pregnancy and child birthing. Traditional birth attendant and spiritual care were identified as forms of non-formal maternal health care utilized by pregnant women. Cost of seeking formal health care, the belief that traditional birth attendants and spiritual churches could offer spiritual protection during childbirth, fear of cesarean delivery, the belief in the potency of herbal medicine in sustaining pregnancy, lack of antenatal clinic attendance, and influence of parents on site of delivery were reasons for preference for non-formal health care by pregnant women. The findings point to the need to look beyond formal physical access, the need for government absorbing full cost of maternal care for women who cannot pay, to accommodating women’s religious beliefs and integrate non-formal health care providers into the formal health care system in low income urban communities in Ghana.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijhs.v4n1a1