UMAPS alumnus Kennedy Alatinga, now a senior lecturer and dean at the SD-Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies in Ghana, was recently awarded an ASRI seed grant for his collaborative research project with U-M’s Cheryl Moyer. Alatinga was a UMAPS scholar in 2013/14 working with Dean Yang at the Ford School of Public Policy. Alatinga and Moyer first met following a presentation as part of his work as a UMAPS scholar. Alatinga and Moyer’s grant seeks to examine out-of-pocket payments for maternal health services in Ghana. This grant takes a health policy perspective to examine Ghana’s National Healthcare Plan, implemented in 2003. The researchers are interested in the plan’s policies and interventions regarding maternal care.

Ghana’s National Healthcare Plan is committed to preventing pregnant women from making any payments for maternal health care. However, as Alatinga told ASC, the researchers “see that there is evidence that even in the presence of the healthcare scheme, women are still paying out of pocket for their healthcare. Out of pocket payments are a regressive form of payment for the whole population, especially for pregnant women and the poor. It is important to investigate the prevalence of out-of-pocket payments among women seeking healthcare. This is important because maternal healthcare is a key component of healthcare as it impacts the health of mothers and children. If they do not have access to quality healthcare it will have an adverse effect on the population as a whole.”

This ASC-funded work aims to learn the prevalence and determinants of out-of-pocket payments among women seeking maternal healthcare, and to study why women are paying when they are meant to have free access. Once questions pertaining to these themes can be answered, the researchers aim to use their data and analysis to advise Ghanaian healthcare policy. Over the long term, this research can help lay a foundation through which Ghana can better move towards universal healthcare coverage across the country.

Alatinga, Moyer, and their research team will be adopting a mixed-methods approach to their research. They will conduct a survey in order to quantify how much women are paying for antenatal, delivery, and post-natal care. This will help them differentiate between women to assess if payments depend on age or place of residence. A qualitative approach will be adopted after the survey is completed in order to dig deeper into the issues uncovered. The researchers plan to speak to participants in the survey and healthcare providers to find out why payments are still occurring, and how much women are paying for healthcare which should be free.

The ASC seed grant provides funding for Alatinga and Moyer to conduct this pilot project, with the hope that it will lead to future projects that continue asking and answering such fundamental questions. Alatinga told ASC that he always feels “excited to connect with the ASC including UMAPS alumni, staff, and faculty.  UMAPS is a superb concept, and I would hope that it continues to integrate into Ghana and Africa’s smaller universities”  including his own - SD-Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies. He told ASC that “UMAPS changed my worldview, improved my research and the way I write. I hope to continue to share these opportunities with others, especially to scholars that are at a more junior level.”

The African Studies Center at U-M has a deep commitment to fostering collaborative research and scholarship in Africa and with its scholars. Through our seed grant competition, the ASC supports early-stage joint research projects bringing together U-M faculty and researchers affiliated with universities on the continent. We report here on the work that has been supported by recent ASC seed grants to showcase the breadth of this scholarship and to encourage other U-M-based scholars to consider applying for a Seed Grant award with one or more colleagues on the continent.