Given that maternal mortality is a major global health concern, multiple measures including antenatal care visits have been promoted by the global community. However, most pregnant women in Ghana and other sub-Saharan African countries do not attain the recommended timelines, in addition to a slower progress towards meeting the required minimum of eight visits stipulated by the World Health Organization. Therefore, this study explored the trends in antenatal care visits and the associated factors in Ghana from 2006 to 2018 using the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys.
The study used women datasets (N = 7795) aged 15 to 49 years from three waves (2006, 2011, and 2017-2018) of the Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (GMICS). STATA version 14 was used for data analyses. Univariable analyses, bivariable analyses with chi-square test of independence, and multivariable analyses with robust multinomial logistic regression models were fitted.
The study found a consistent increase in the proportion of women having adequate and optimal antenatal attendance from 2006 to 2018 across the women’s sociodemographic segments. For instance, the proportion of mothers achieving adequate antenatal care (4 to 7 antenatal care visits) increased from 49.3% in 2006 to 49.98% in 2011 to 58.61% in 2017-2018. In the multivariable model, women with upward attainment of formal education, health insurance coverage, increasing household wealth, and residing in the Upper East Region were consistently associated with a higher likelihood of adequate and/or optimal antenatal care attendance from 2006 to 2018.
Women who are less likely to achieve optimal antenatal care visits should be targeted by policies towards reducing maternal mortalities and other birth complications. Poverty-reduction policies, promoting maternal and girl-child education, improving general livelihood in rural settings, expanding health insurance coverage and infrastructural access, harnessing community-level structures, and innovative measures such as telehealth and telemedicine are required to increase antenatal care utilization.