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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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
Issue (Month): 12 (June)
Pages: 2930-2944

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:12:p:2930-2944
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