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Determinants of utilization of antenatal care services in developing countries: Recent evidence from Ghana
Authors: Edward Nketiah-Amponsah, Bernardin Senadza, and Eric Arthur
Source: African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, 4(1): 58-73; DOI: 10.1108/20400701311303159
Topic(s): Antenatal care
Health care utilization
Maternal health
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2013
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to estimate the key socio-economic and demographic factors influencing the utilization of antenatal care services in Ghana. Design/methodology/approach – The paper utilizes the most recent Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS V) data. The dependent variable is the intensity of utilization (number) of antenatal care visits. Hence, the negative binomial regression is employed to investigate the socio-economic and demographic correlates of the intensity of antenatal care utilization in Ghana. Findings – The study finds that wealth status, age, ownership of health insurance (especially for rural women), educational attainment, birth order, religion and administrative region of residence are significant predictors of the intensity of antenatal care services utilization. In particular, the utilization rate increases in wealth status. The authors also found significant statistical relationship between residence and antenatal care utilization. This finding reinforces the differences in health facilities between the rural and urban areas of Ghana. The authors did not, however, find evidence for proxies for financial and physical access. Research limitations/implications – The GDHS survey lacks data on the distance to the nearest health facility where ANC is sought and a variable for the price of ANC visit. Proxies had to be used to capture these variables. Practical implications – The fact that ownership of health insurance in rural areas increases the number of ANC visits makes it imperative to intensify health insurance awareness and enrollment campaigns in the rural areas so as to bridge the rural-urban gap in ANC utilization. Also, while the free maternal health care policy for expecting mothers is laudable, a minimum level of wealth is required to induce antenatal care visitations. This is because household wealth status still plays a major role even in a free maternal health regime. Originality/value – A new finding of the paper is the significant effect that ownership of health insurance has on the utilization of ANC services among rural women. While generally rural women have a lower propensity to use ANC services compared to urban women, the intensity of usage of ANC services tends to increase for rural women who own health insurance. Keywords: Antenatal care, Utilization, Health insurance, Negative binomial, Ghana, Social insurance, Health care