Excessive patronage of top facilities undermining free maternal health services

The Korle-bu Teaching Hospital

The low patronage of antenatal care and normal delivery care services at the lower level health facilities in Ghana could affect the sustainability of the free maternal health services.

Cost of free maternal services have been consistently higher at high level facilities putting so much stress on the British Grant meant to improve financial access to maternal services.

Dr Emmanuel Ankrah Odame, head of the Public Health Division of Ridge Hospital, announced this when he made a poster presentation at the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation 2011 International conference in Seattle.

The conference, the first of its kind, under the theme: “Controversies, Innovation, Accountability”, is attended by over 600 researchers, policy makers and global health leaders from around the world. They will be sharing ground breaking advances in health measurements as well as tackle contentious debates.

Dr Odame said in order to reduce Ghana’s maternal mortality rate from the 451 per 100,000 live births and meet the Millennium Development Goal 5 by 2015, there was the need to sustain the free maternal health services and ensure that people access the lower levels of health facilities.

However, he reported that a study conducted in 2009 at Adabraka Hospital, Ridge Hospital and Osu Maternity Home on the routine financial claims by the National Health Insurance Authority showed a total of GH¢1358647.98 (US$936998.61). This represented 7.7 per cent of expenditure of the British Grant as claims for the cost of maternal health services.

The study considered the financial cost of antenatal, post natal, delivery, abortion, and the overall costs of all the maternal health services for both services and drugs.

The financial cost of antenatal care was GH¢2894.096 (US$199375.83) whilst post natal care was GH¢159913.34
(US$110285.06). Spontaneous vaginal delivery was GH¢205452.58 (US$141691.44).

He explained that when the pressures put on the high level hospitals are not lowered the facilities in the southern center of the country alone could exhaust the British Grant in 13 years.

Dr Odame called recommended the placement of specialists in the lower facilities to attend to clients, saying, “this will let pregnant women access the lower level facilities and not use the issue of no specialists as an excuse”.

He said there should also be adherence to the gate keeping policy in all facilities to reduce cost towards the achievement of MDG5 and reducing the burden on the high level health facilities.

Cost savings, he said, could be made if services such as antenatal care and normal care deliveries, which forms the bulk of maternal health services, are done at the lower level facilities for free maternal health services to be sustained.

The conference will be highlighting innovative methods, latest debates in measurements, and translation of data to inform effective policy for improved population health.

It is co-hosted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, The Lancet, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Harvard School of Public Health and the University Of Queensland School Of Population Health.

It also aims at fostering greater exchange of ideals, collaboration and intellectual innovation and helping to bridge traditional disciplinary boundaries by demonstrating the force and potential of multi disciplinary intellectual endeavours in population health.

Topics being discussed include Non Communicable Diseases, Malaria, Priority Setting and Health Inequalities.

Source: GNA

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