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OBJECTIVES: To investigate how the quality of maternal health services and travel times to health facilities affect birthing service utilisation in Eastern Region, Ghana. DESIGN: The study is a cross-sectional spatial interaction analysis of birth service utilisation patterns. Routine birth data were spatially linked to quality care, service demand and travel time data. SETTING: 131 Health facilities (public, private and faith-based) in 33 districts in Eastern Region, Ghana. PARTICIPANTS: Women who gave birth in health facilities in the Eastern Region, Ghana in 2017. OUTCOME MEASURES: The count of women giving birth, the quality of birthing care services and the geographic coverage of birthing care services. RESULTS: As travel time from women's place of residence to the health facility increased up to two2 hours, the utilisation rate markedly decreased. Higher quality of maternal health services haves a larger, positive effect on utilisation rates than service proximity. The quality of maternal health services was higher in hospitals than in primary care facilities. Most women (88.6%) travelling via mechanised transport were within two2 hours of any birthing service. The majority (56.2%) of women were beyond the two2 -hour threshold of critical comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (CEmONC) services. Few CEmONC services were in urban centres, disadvantaging rural populations. CONCLUSIONS: To increase birthing service utilisation in Ghana, higher quality health facilities should be located closer to women, particularly in rural areas. Beyond Ghana, routinely collected birth records could be used to understand the interaction of service proximity and quality.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





epidemiology, health policy, maternal medicine, public health, Infant, Newborn, Pregnancy, Female, Humans, Ghana, Cross-Sectional Studies, Parturition, Maternal Health Services, Health Facilities, Health Services Accessibility, Delivery, Obstetric