Obstetric referral processes and the role of inter-facility communication: the district-level experience in the Greater Accra region of Ghana

Mary Amoakoh-Coleman*, Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch, Edem S. Vidzro, Daniel K. Arhinful, Evelyn K. Ansah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To describe the capacity of primary health care facilities to manage obstetric referrals, the reasons, and processes for managing obstetric referrals, and how an enhanced inter-facility communication system may have in-fluenced these Design: Mixed methods comparing data before and during the intervention period. Setting: Three districts in the Greater Accra region, Ghana from May 2017 to February 2018 Participants: Referred pregnant women and their relatives, health workers at referring and referral facilities, facility and district health managers. Intervention: An enhanced inter-facility communication system for obstetric referrals Results: Twenty-two facilities and 673 referrals were assessed over the period. The major reason for referrals was pregnancy complications (85.5%). Emergency obstetric medicines - oxytocin and magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) were available in 81.8% and 54.5% facilities, respectively, and a health worker accompanied 110(16.3%) women to the referral centre. Inter-facility communication about the referral occurred for 240 (35.7%) patients. During the interven-tion period, referrals joining queues at the referral facility decreased (7.8% to 0.0%; p=0.01), referrals coming in with referral notes improved (78.4% to 91.2%) and referrals with inter-facility communication improved (43.1% to 52.9%). Health workers and managers reported improvement in feedback to lower-level facilities and better filling of referral forms. Conclusion: Facilities had varying levels of availability of infrastructure, protocols, guidelines, services, equipment, and logistics for managing obstetric referrals. Enhanced inter-facility communication for obstetric referrals which engages health workers and provides requisite tools, can facilitate an efficient referral process for desired outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalGhana Medical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • capacity
  • interfacility communication
  • obstetric referrals
  • outcomes
  • processes


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