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Improving the utilization of health and nutrition services: experience from the Catholic Relief Services supported the Development Assistance Programme in Ghana

Improving the utilization of health and nutrition services: experience from the Catholic Relief Services supported the Development Assistance Programme in Ghana

Primary Health Care Research and Development 12(2): 145-156

Low utilization of health and nutrition services is a major setback to the attainment of ultimate health of many populations in developing countries including Ghana. Primary health care (PHC) forms the basis for the provision of good quality and sustainable health care and making it accessible to the majority of the population. In line with this, the Catholic Relief Services spearheaded a Development Assistance Programme for the 2004-08 financial year in the northern sector of Ghana. The primary beneficiaries were children in their early years and pregnant and lactating women. The main aim of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which the programme objectives were achieved. This paper highlights the innovative processes used to improve access to and utilization of key health and nutrition services and their impact on the health of children and women. A pre-test/post-test design involving two cross-sectional surveys at baseline and follow-up surveys were used to determine the outcome/impact of the programme. The study findings show that the programme reduced chronic malnutrition by 1.5 percentage points/year in participating communities. The programme also empowered individuals and communities to adopt positive health behaviours (empowerment defined here as the ability to act in one's own interest). Furthermore, the programme provided facilities and logistics, which increased access to health and nutrition services, improved the quality of health services and strengthened the institutional capacity of District Health Management teams to plan for and manage health activities. The programme showed improvement over time in terms of health-seeking behaviours, practices and coverage of health and nutrition services from the baseline levels. If similar programme activities are put in place, the nutrition-related millennium development goals are most likely to be met.

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Accession: 053757543

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PMID: 21457599

DOI: 10.1017/s1463423610000411

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