Nevin Manimala Statistics

Distance is “a big problem”: a geographic analysis of reported and modelled proximity to maternal health services in Ghana

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2022 Aug 31;22(1):672. doi: 10.1186/s12884-022-04998-0.


BACKGROUND: Geographic barriers to healthcare are associated with adverse maternal health outcomes. Modelling travel times using georeferenced data is becoming common in quantifying physical access. Multiple Demographic and Health Surveys ask women about distance-related problems accessing healthcare, but responses have not been evaluated against modelled travel times. This cross-sectional study aims to compare reported and modelled distance by socio-demographic characteristics and evaluate their relationship with skilled birth attendance. Also, we assess the socio-demographic factors associated with self-reported distance problems in accessing healthcare.

METHODS: Distance problems and socio-demographic characteristics reported by 2210 women via the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey were included in analysis. Geospatial methods were used to model travel time to the nearest health facility using roads, rivers, land cover, travel speeds, cluster locations and health facility locations. Logistic regressions were used to predict skilled birth attendance and self-reported distance problems.

RESULTS: Women reporting distance challenges accessing healthcare had significantly longer travel times to the nearest health facility. Poverty significantly increased the odds of reporting challenges with distance. In contrast, living in urban areas and being registered with health insurance reduced the odds of reporting distance challenges. Women with a skilled attendant at birth, four or more skilled antenatal appointments and timely skilled postnatal care had shorter travel times to the nearest health facility. Generally, less educated, poor, rural women registered with health insurance had longer travel times to their nearest health facility. After adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, the following factors increased the odds of skilled birth attendance: wealth, health insurance, higher education, living in urban areas, and completing four or more antenatal care appointments.

CONCLUSION: Studies relying on modelled travel times to nearest facility should recognise the differential impact of geographic access to healthcare on poor rural women. Physical access to maternal health care should be scaled up in rural areas and utilisation increased by improving livelihoods.

PMID:36045351 | DOI:10.1186/s12884-022-04998-0

By Nevin Manimala

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