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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1997 Nov;59 Suppl 2:S165-72.

The maternity waiting home concept: the Nsawam, Ghana experience. The Accra PMM Team.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ghana Medical School, Korle Bu, Accra.



Focus group discussions with community members in Nsawam District, Ghana, identified poor roads, scarce transport and exorbitant fees for emergency transport as barriers to reaching the district hospital for treatment of an obstetric complication.


To minimize delay in the event of a complication, a maternity waiting home (MWH) was established in Nsawam in 1994. One ward of an abandoned hospital was renovated and furnished for this purpose. The objective was to encourage women at high risk of obstetric complications to move to the MWH so they could be transferred to the hospital when labor began.


Of 25 women referred to the MWH by health personnel over 12 months, only one complied, for one night. Focus group discussions with community members and hospital staff later revealed that cost and hardship of staying away from home, absence of health personnel, distance from hospital, desolate surroundings and lack of perceived need were reasons for poor utilization.


The intervention cost approximately US $10,500, shared approximately equally between the project and government. The main government contribution was the building.


It is important to consult potential users not only to identify problems, but also to identify appropriate solutions. Careful 'market research' should be done before launching interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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