An assessment of hospital maternal health services in northern Ghana: a cross-sectional survey

Edward Kwabena AMEYAW*, Roberta Mensima AMOAH, Carolyne NJUE, Nguyen Toan TRAN, Angela DAWSON

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)



Access to and delivery of comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC) services are often weak in low and middle-income countries affecting maternal and infant health outcomes. There are no studies on resources for maternal healthcare in the Northern region of Ghana. This knowledge is vital for health service planning and mobilising funding to address identified gaps. We investigated the available resources for managing CEmONC and referral services in the region.


This study involved a cross-sectional survey of maternity facilities in ten hospitals in the Northern region of Ghana, serving a population of 2,479,461, including 582,897 women aged 15–49. Public and faith-based hospitals were included in the study. We used the Service Provision Assessment tool to gather data for this study between October and December 2019. Given the small sample size, we used descriptive statistics to summarise the data using SPSS version 25 and Excel 2016.


A total of 22,271 ANC visits from women to these hospitals occurred in the past 3 months preceding the study; however, 6072 birth events (cases) occurred within the same period. All the hospitals had less than one general medical doctor per 10,000 population (range 0.02–0.30). The number of midwives per 10,000 population ranged from 0.00 (facility H and J) to 1.87 (facility E), and none of the hospitals had a university-trained nurse designated for maternity care. Only one hospital had complete equipment for emergency obstetric and newborn care, while four others had adequate emergency obstetric care equipment. The number of maternity and delivery beds per 10,000 population was low, ranging from 0.40 to 2.13.


The management of emergency obstetric care and referrals are likely to be affected by the limited human resources and equipment in hospitals in Northern Ghana. Financial and non-financial incentives to entice midwives, obstetricians and medical officers to the Northern region should be implemented. Resources should be mobilised to improve the availability of essential equipment such as vacuum extractors and reliable ambulances to enhance referral services. Considerable health system strengthening efforts are required to achieve the required standards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1088
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Early online date26 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

We are thankful to the Ghana Health Service and the Northern Region Health Directorate of Ghana for the support.


  • Maternal healthcare
  • Northern Ghana
  • Obstetric care
  • Referral
  • Reproductive health


Dive into the research topics of 'An assessment of hospital maternal health services in northern Ghana: a cross-sectional survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this