Caro van Leeuwen, MA


Caro earned a BA in Social Anthropology and Gender Studies at the University of Basel. In the course of her BA she spent a semester at the University of Ghana in Legon, Ghana. In 2012 she enrolled in the MA program African Studies with a focus on Social Anthropology and Human Well-Being. As a preparation for her MA-thesis she went back to Ghana for an internship with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Insitute (SwissTPH) to be a research assistant in the project "Evicende for Actions" (E4A) concerning maternal health. She later returned for fieldwork for her MA-thesis. Caro’s research in Ghana was funded by Josef und Olga Tomcsik Stiftung, the SwissTPH and the DOMS Stiftung. In 2015 she earned her Masters Degree.
Caro has also been a part time worker of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) since 2013, first in the library, later in the archives of the BAB. Furthermore she is a guide of the Urban Safari, the guided city tour in Basel with a focus on Africa. Caro worked for some months as an assistant of the Center for African Studies. 
From February 2016, Caro will work as an intern at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC/DEZA) in Berne.

MA Thesis

Home or Hospital? Birthing Decisions of Women in Accra, Ghana

Background: Pregnancy and birth have been important topics in social anthropology and in public health since these events are at the interface of culture and biology in all societies. Many studies have focused on how and where women deliver. In Ghana, half of all births happen outside of health facilities despite significant governmental efforts to increase institutional deliveries. Ther is little known about social and cultural reasons for low hospital deliveries in urban areas.
Aim: The question of this MA-thesis is: How do mothers decide on types of care during pregancy and birth and how do they experience insitutional or other health care? The aim is to understand women's decisions concerning care during pregnancy and birth.
Methods: A small ethnographic study was conducted in an informal coastal settlement called Mensah Guinea in Accra. The fieldwork included observation and in-depth interviews with nine mothers, a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and an herbalist.
Findings: The findings show a variety of choices and influences. Decision-making is a process depending on context. The options included biomedical care in a health facility, so-called "traditional" care (herbal medicine and TBAs), and spiritual care. Several women decided to go to their family's hometown for birth. Influences on the decision-making process came from family members, partners and in-laws. Past experiences were an important factor for their choice as well. Many women had negative experiences in hospitals. Money for treatment was a challence and emotional aspects were equally important.
Conclusion: The choice of going to one's hometown for delivery means women prefer being with their family over having access to and availability of health facilities in the city. It is noticeable that many women have made bad experiences in hospital. This shows that quality of care is not provided. Furthermore, there is need for better health care in informal settlements in Accra.