>Since July 1st of this year, maternal health care in Ghana is free. I have seen this fantastic policy being carried out in front of my own eyes since my husband’s niece gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on July 5th. She did not know about the new health care initiative and a few weeks before the birth she asked me for the 90 GHC (as much in USD) to be able to go to the hospital for the arrival of her baby. The alternative for her, as for so many other Ghanaian mothers-to-be, was giving birth at home.
Then the policy came into effect and in stead of providing the money, I was there to help out with acquiring the free care. Together we filled out numerous papers and forms, searched for a photographer take four (!) passport photos (the day of the checking out was a Sunday so the photographer had gone to church). The mother had to sign up in advance (she did so on the 3rd, two days prior to the birth). I believe that together all these things possibly can serve as red tape, making it too difficult to obtain the free policy. But if you do succeed, and this is very good news, all care and medicine related to the pregnancy is free. South Africa has the same policy since 1994 with very promising results.
According to one of Ghana’s main newspapers, this initative has already become a success in Ghana. Over the last two and a half weeks, over 50 000 expecting mothers have registered with the scheme which is funded in collaboration with the British Government (42 million pounds over 4 years).
Maternal mortality rate is a big problem in Ghana and with the spotlight given to it by the UN Millenium Development Goals (“Improve Maternal Health” is Goal No 5) finally, a big step has been taken to improve the situation for mothers in Ghana.
Update: I found a BBC web-discussion on how to stop the maternal deaths in Africa with some interesting insights from fellow Africans.