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Rural/urban and socioeconomic differentials in quality of antenatal care in Ghana.


BACKGROUND:Approximately 800 women die of pregnancy-related complications every day. Over half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Most maternal deaths can be prevented with high quality maternal health services. It is well established that use of maternal health services vary by place of residence and socioeconomic status (SES), but few studies have examined the determinants of quality of maternal health services in SSA. The purpose of this study is to examine the determinants of antenatal care (ANC) quality in Ghana-focusing on the role of place of residence and SES (education and wealth). The analysis also examines the interactions of these variables and the mediating role of ANC timing, frequency, facility type, and provider type. METHODS:The data are from the Ghana Maternal Health Survey (N = 4,868). Analytic techniques include multilevel linear regression with mediation and moderation analysis. RESULTS:Urban residence and higher SES are positively associated with higher ANC quality, but the urban effect is completely explained by sociodemographic factors. Specifically, about half of the urban effect is explained by education and wealth alone, with other variables accounting for the remainder. The effects of education are conditional on wealth and are strongest for poor women. Starting ANC visits early and attending the recommended four visits as well as receiving ANC from a higher level facility and from a skilled provider are associated with higher quality ANC. These factors partially explain the SES differentials. IMPLICATIONS:Ghanaian women experience significant disparities in quality of ANC, with poor illiterate women receiving the worst care. Targeted efforts to increase quality of ANC may significantly reduce maternal health disparities in Ghana and SSA. A particularly crucial step is to improve ANC quality in the lower level health facilities, where the most vulnerable women are more likely to seek ANC.

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