Emily Kennedy

Publication Date

Fall 1999


Ghanaian women have been delivering their own babies for almost two thousand years now, using knowledge passed down from their elders and medicines prepared from herbs. It has only been in the past one hundred years that scientific medicines and institutions have been introduced to this country, yet more and more individuals are turning to these doctors and hospitals for care before, during and after pregnancies. The role of traditional birth attendants, (TBAs), has begun to be questioned as well as attacked for its more religious and holistic approach which is resulting in a growing schism between the TBAs and the formally trained doctors and nurses. However, these transitions that are occurring will never lead to the demise of the TBAs due to economic, cultural, social and psychological factors. TBAs, midwives and doctors are the three main sources of maternal health care in Ghana. Previously, women would select only one of the three, but today, they are using a combination of these health care providers. This has led to their inevitable dependence on one another, and the reality that with the failure of one, means the future of all.