Costs of maternal health care services in three anglophone African countries

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2003 Jan-Mar;18(1):3-22. doi: 10.1002/hpm.690.


This paper is a synthesis of a case study of provider and consumer costs, along with selected quality indicators, for six maternal health services provided at one public hospital, one mission hospital, one public health centre and one mission centre, in Uganda, Malawi and Ghana. The study examines the costs of providing the services in a selected number of facilities in order to examine the reasons behind cost differences, assess the efficiency of service delivery, and determine whether management improvements might achieve cost savings without hurting quality. This assessment is important to African countries with ambitious goals for improving maternal health but scarce public health resources and limited government budgets. The study also evaluates the costs that consumers pay to use the maternal health services, along with the contribution that revenues from fees for services make to recovering health facility costs. The authors find that costs differ between hospitals and health centres as well as among mission and public facilities in the study sample. The variation is explained by differences in the role of the facility, use and availability of materials and equipment, number and level of personnel delivering services, and utilization levels of services. The report concludes with several policy implications for improvements in efficiency, financing options and consumer costs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Facilities / classification
  • Health Facilities / economics*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Malawi
  • Management Audit
  • Maternal Health Services / economics*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Uganda