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Challenges to the reproductive-health needs of African women: On religion and maternal health utilization in Ghana


  • Gyimah, Stephen Obeng
  • Takyi, Baffour K.
  • Addai, Isaac


How relevant is religion to our understanding of maternal health (MH) service utilization in sub-Saharan Africa? We ask this question mainly because while the effect of religion on some aspects of reproductive behavior (e.g., fertility, contraception) has not gone unnoticed in the region, very few studies have examined the possible link with MH service utilization. Understanding this link in the context of sub-Saharan Africa is particularly relevant given the overriding influence of religion on the social fabric of Africans and the unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality in the region. As African countries struggle to achieve their stipulated reductions in maternal and child mortality levels by two-thirds by 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals, the need to examine the complex set of macro- and micro-factors that affect maternal and child health in the region cannot be underestimated. Using data from the 2003 Ghana Demographic Survey, we found religion (measured by denominational affiliation) to be a significant factor in MH use. This is true even after we had controlled for socio-economic variables. In general, Moslem and traditional women were less likely to use such services compared with Christians. The findings are discussed with reference to our theoretical framework and some policy issues are highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • Gyimah, Stephen Obeng & Takyi, Baffour K. & Addai, Isaac, 2006. "Challenges to the reproductive-health needs of African women: On religion and maternal health utilization in Ghana," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 2930-2944, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:12:p:2930-2944

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Z. Kuuire & Eric Y. Tenkorang & Andrea Rishworth & Isaac Luginaah & Alfred E. Yawson, 2017. "Is the Pro-Poor Premium Exemption Policy of Ghana’s NHIS Reducing Disparities Among the Elderly?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 36(2), pages 231-249, April.
    2. Dixon, Jenna & Luginaah, Isaac & Mkandawire, Paul, 2014. "The National Health Insurance Scheme in Ghana's Upper West Region: A gendered perspective of insurance acquisition in a resource-poor setting," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 103-112.
    3. Nik Stoop & Marijke Verpoorten & Koen Deconinck, 2017. "Voodoo, Vaccines and Bed Nets," LICOS Discussion Papers 39417, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    4. Ha, Wei & Salama, Peter & Gwavuya, Stanley & Kanjala, Chifundo, 2014. "Is religion the forgotten variable in maternal and child health? Evidence from Zimbabwe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 80-88.
    5. Trani, Jean-Francois & Browne, Joyce & Kett, Maria & Bah, Osman & Morlai, Teddy & Bailey, Nicki & Groce, Nora, 2011. "Access to health care, reproductive health and disability: A large scale survey in Sierra Leone," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1477-1489.
    6. McTavish, Sarah & Moore, Spencer & Harper, Sam & Lynch, John, 2010. "National female literacy, individual socio-economic status, and maternal health care use in sub-Saharan Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(11), pages 1958-1963, December.
    7. Luginaah, Isaac N. & Kangmennaang, Joseph & Fallah, Mosoka & Dahn, Bernice & Kateh, Francis & Nyenswah, Tolbert, 2016. "Timing and utilization of antenatal care services in Liberia: Understanding the pre-Ebola epidemic context," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 75-86.
    8. Shandana Dar & Uzma Afzal, 2015. "Education and Maternal Health in Pakistan: The Pathways of Influence," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 20(2), pages 1-34, July-Dec.


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