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The Duu Health Facility

In Ghana, limited access to formal health care facilities remains a key bottleneck in the health care delivery system. Vulnerable, rural households experience the greatest challenges in attaining timely access to health care facilities during emergencies. The limitation of accessing medical care, especially during maternal and child health emergencies, is a major barrier in Ghana's effort to achieving key Millennium Development Goals.

Maternal and neonatal deaths in Ghana, particularly in rural communities, are caused by a complex interaction of economic, financial, social, and cultural factors that affect service access and quality. There is reasonable access to antenatal care, with more than 96% of pregnant women 15-49 years receiving antenatal care from a skilled provider. However, institutional delivery (skilled care at childbirth) is lower (68%), despite the free maternal care policy that was introduced in 2003.

The persistent high level of maternal and child mortality revolves around the "three delays": 1) inability to recognize the problem and make a quick decision to seek care; 2) inability to reach the point of care; and, 3) delay in receiving appropriate and high-quality care.

CRS' Rural Emergency Health Service and Transport Project, also known as REST II, is helping expand access to rural ambulances using specially-equipped motor-tricycles, and provide delivery kits and supplies to address the second and third delays. It is supported by The Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Photo by Julian Spath/Catholic Relief Services