Exploring the feasibility of eHealth solutions to decrease delays in maternal healthcare in remote communities of Ghana
Journal article, 2017
Background: Despite the introduction of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal deaths from 400 to 100 per 100,000 live births, the proportion of maternal deaths is still much higher in most developing countries like Ghana. Various interventions have been implemented in Ghana that focus on increasing skilled maternal care. These are especially needed in rural areas. EHealth has the potential to contribute to reducing the challenges in maternal healthcare (MHC) that poor areas suffer. This paper analyzes the potential of eHealth solutions to improve maternal health in rural Ghana as well as the challenges to their implementation. The work was carried out in cooperation with the local health directorate of Kpando Municipality, one of the administrative areas in the Volta Region. Methods: The study is focused on remote peninsulas and islands in Kpando Municipality. Data was gathered through triangulated research methods. Maternal health challenges were identified using the Three Delays Model for MHC. The three delays are delay in seeking care, delay accessing health facilities, and delay receiving adequate care. Challenges to the implementation of eHealth solutions in remote communities were analyzed using the Drury's 5C eHealthmodel for developing countries. The 5Cs correspond to context, community, capacity, connectivity, and content. Results: The results show that financial dependence of women, a decision-making process based on previous experiences and traditional beliefs, competitiveness between facilities, organizational loopholes, lack of equipment, and geographical situations directly influence MHC outcomes. EHealth solutions, thanks to the high number of health workers with basic IT skills, have high potential to reduce MHC delays. However, poverty, cultural beliefs, organizational issues, connectivity, and lack of human resources were identified as main challenges to the implementation of eHealth solutions. Conclusion: In Ghana's rural areas the three delays proposed in the model affect the outcomes of MHC. These delays are influenced by socio-economic status, access to facilities, and quality of care. EHealth solutions show great potential to reduce the delays. Based on the 5C model, a mHealth solution aiming to improve guidance during pregnancy was outlined.
Skilled maternal care
Maternal mortality ratio