Reproductive Health Norms, Product and Service Utilization and the Impact of Associated Costs on Women and Households in Accra, Ghana
Posted: 21 May 2011
Date Written: January 19, 2011
Most definitions of reproductive health, including a recent WHO effort to measure the burden of sexual and reproductive health worldwide, focus very narrowly on the morbidity and premature mortality that can be readily identified within standard medical taxonomies. Here, we draw attention to more widespread challenges faced by women, taking a more holistic approach. A woman’s reproductive health needs change as she ages. Women experience menarche and regular menstruation, become sexually active, seek to become pregnant or prevent pregnancy, manage pregnancy and childbearing and eventually encounter menopause.
Women across the globe take part in a range of practices, buy a range of products and seek health care services to protect their reproductive health. To date, very little data exists on cultural norms and behaviors associated with reproductive health maintenance, including the goods and services women seek to protect, enhance or manage their reproductive health, or the time and money that women spend in obtaining these services. Data is particularly lacking in developing countries and in Africa in particular. This data is critical to inform evidence-based policies that aim to support women and their efforts to protect their health and subsequently the health of their children and families. We report here on an investigation in Accra, Ghana where we collected detailed quantitative data from a subset of women participating in a large household survey on women’s health in Accra, on their reproductive health needs and health care seeking behavior and associated costs. We also present qualitative data on norms and behavior around maintaining a healthy reproductive and sexual life.
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